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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.

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”).

 

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.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mozambique to Sign More Contracts for Offshore Hydrocarbon Exploration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Trans-Kalahari Corridor Significant for Regional Growth.

Works and Transport Minister John Mutorwa said that the erection of the Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat offices in Windhoek aims to facilitate trade and propel the development agendas of Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.

Mutorwa also stated that the transport corridor is extremely significant for the growth of the region, particularly when it comes to the movement of goods and people.

The Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) is a tripartite transboundary corridor management institution established with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards deeper regional integration programs of SADC, SACU, and indeed NEPAD.

“In 2007, a hosting agreement was signed to give practical meaning to the establishment of a secretariat office here in Windhoek,” Mutorwa highlighted on Friday at the inauguration of the new offices.

On 3 November 2003, the transport ministers of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa signed an agreement at the coastal town of Walvis Bay for the development and management of TKC.

In the preamble of the agreement, the three nations committed themselves to the ideals, objectives, and principles which include the common vision of new partnerships for Africa’s development to eradicate poverty and place those countries individually and collectively on a path of sustainable growth and development.

South Africa’s transport minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga said it is the collective interest and that of the region and the continent that this collaboration succeeds in providing invaluable lessons to address similar challenges in the region and elsewhere on the continent.

“Transport is the heartbeat of social development and economic growth. It enables access to infrastructure and amenities for our people and without efficient transport, our respective economies would stagnate,” she said.

Chikunga added that this is a partnership that must be built on as a stepping stone to giving practical expression to the African Continental Free Trade Area.

She said: “The transport sector, particularly the TKC, must lead the charge in dismantling the bottlenecks to the free movement of goods and people between our respective countries and the continent.”

Botswana’s transport minister and chairperson of the TKC, Eric Molale, said he hopes infrastructure development of this nature will not be an opportunity for illegal trade and other unwarranted activities on the continent.

“We have to make sure that the road is safe to use. We have a scourge of human trafficking; we don’t want this road to be associated with that. Another is a scourge of gender-based violence and we don’t want the corridor to be associated with that scourge,” Molale stressed.

The TKC is a road network spanning approximately 1900 kilometers across the territories of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. It starts in the Gauteng Province in South Africa and continues through Rustenburg and Zeerust in the North-West Province, through Lobatse and Kanye in Botswana, the Mamuno and Trans Kalahari Border Posts, through Gobabis, Windhoek and Okahandja right through to the Port of Walvis Bay.

Inauguration of Giordano New Store in Algeria as it Marks Debut.

Giordano, the renowned Hong Kong-listed apparel retailer, just embarked on a new phase of expansion by opening its first store in Algeria. The store, located within Algiers’ City Centre Shopping Centre, signifies Giordano’s growing footprint in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Spanning an area of 139 square meters, the L-shaped store showcases a contemporary design concept that is characterized by clean lines and a predominantly white color scheme for fixtures and fittings. The entrance of the store is particularly wide, welcoming shoppers into an inviting retail environment with wood panel flooring adding a touch of warmth.

City Centre Shopping Centre, a prominent retail destination in Algiers, provides an ideal location for Giordano’s entrance into the Algerian market. The mall covers an impressive 32,000 square meters of retail floor space and accommodates 800 parking spaces, offering visitors a diverse selection of international fashion labels, a variety of dining options, and indoor entertainment facilities.

Hoying Lee, Giordano’s Associate Director for Global Franchising and Licensing, expressed his confidence in the company’s continued success in North Africa and beyond, citing the strategic establishment of their first store in Algeria. This achievement comes on the heels of Giordano’s existing presence in Egypt and the positive sales momentum across its key markets, including Greater China, Southeast Asia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Founded in 1981, Giordano has now reached a significant milestone of over 2,100 stores and counters across a multitude of regions. These regions include Greater China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, India, Africa, and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The brand’s consistent growth and expansion highlight its commitment to delivering quality apparel and contemporary designs to diverse markets.

Giordano’s entry into Algeria not only underscores its dedication to meeting the evolving fashion needs of consumers but also its strategic vision for expanding its global presence. As the company celebrates the opening of its Algiers store, anticipation grows for the impact it will make on the Algerian retail landscape and its continued journey in the MENA region.

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.”

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.

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. 

China’s Curb on Germanium Exports to Benefit Congo, State Miner Says

On Monday, the Chinese government declared export restrictions on some gallium and germanium products for the purpose of protecting national security. This news has caused worry amongst global firms who are involved in the business of semiconductors and defense production.

 

“We will produce germanium (to replace material) that’s unavailable for the market,” Gecamines’ chairman Guy Robert Lukama told Reuters.

 

Gecamines, the Congolese state miner, revealed that they are likely to experience an increased value for germanium due to China’s restrictions on its product exports. 

 

Such restrictions, which go into effect on August 1, may lead to supply chain disruptions on a global scale, since China currently controls much of the world’s production of the materials used for computer chips and other pieces of technology. 

 

Congo, the number one supplier of cobalt and largest copper producer in Africa, has plans to look into locating minerals such as lithium and tin, as well as rare earths, that would contribute to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy. This in turn, may provide Gecamines with even more potential gain. 

 

While many other international companies, like Nyrstar, consider potential projects involving germanium and gallium, Teck Resources, the biggest North American producer of the material, states that the Chinese export restrictions will have no effect on their current production.

Kenya’s President William Ruto Lifts Logging Ban. 

A man cuts a tree inside Mt Kenya Forest on January 16, 2018.
Credit: Nation.Africa

 

 

Kenya’s President William Ruto has declared an end to a six-year-long logging ban in Kenya.

 

 

Ruto acknowledged the need for job creation and increased economic activity that relies on forest products.

 

 

In defense of his decision, the president highlighted the detrimental implications of the prohibition, calling it “foolish” during a speech he gave on Sunday in Molo, Rift Valley region.

 

 

Mr Ruto made his position clear, stating that the existing forest was decaying all while timber was in demand. “Do you see the foolishness?” he asked.

 

 

Additionally, the president suggested that there should be taxes imposed on imported timber as well as furniture, in an effort to promote domestic production.

 

 

When the logging ban was imposed in 2018, many of its residents who depended on logging for their living were adversely impacted.

 

 

However, the termination of the ban not only brings reprieve to some areas, but also coincides with the government’s plan of planting 15 billion trees over 10 years, with the intention to increase the country’s tree cover.

 

South African Businessman Dethrones Dangote As Africa’s Richest Man.

Aliko Dangote, the chairman of Dangote Group and Nigeria’s leading billionaire has lost his position as Africa’s richest man.

 

According to Forbes index, Dangote has been displaced by South African business man Johann Rupert.

 

The new title holder is currently worth $12bn and now ranks 145th place in the world and number one in Africa. 

 

Meanwhile, Dangote is worth $10.7bn, ranking the 171st position globally and second place in Africa after Rupert.

 

Johann Peter Rupert is the eldest son of business tycoon Anton Rupert and his wife Huberte. He’s the chairman of Richemont, a Swiss-based luxury goods company and the South Africa-based company, Remgro.

 

Until recently, Rupert has firmly followed Dangote behind as the second richest man in Africa.

 

For 12 years, Dangote has held the spot as the number1 richest man in Africa until recent events.

 

Dangote’s wealth fell as a result of the free floating of the naira, implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria. 

The value of the naira at the Investor’s and Exporter’s Window dropped to a height of N791 per US dollar and closed on Friday at N663.04. 

As a result of the flow of the currency, the stocks of Dangote traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange were valued less in USD terms.

Zimbabwe Records Highest Tobacco Sales

Zimbabwe records the highest sale of tobacco after selling 263,000 tonnes and making close to $800m this year. This has superseded the government’s target, which was to sell 230,000 tonnes by 2022/2023.

 

Good rains and an increase in tobacco farmers have been attributed to the increase in sales. According to the agriculture ministry, 85% of the production came from small-scale farmers.

 

According to the tobacco marketing authority, output is expected to rise further as farmers continue to deliver to the market.

 

Zimbabwe is Africa’s leading tobacco producer, exporting to China, the Middle East, and Europe. Tobacco is an important source of foreign currency.

 

Tobacco is Zimbabwe’s most vital foreign currency earner after gold. This has greatly improved the economy and has been a major source of income to the farmers.

 

However, tobacco farming has put Zimbabwe at risk of deforestation as many farmers use wood to cure the tobacco.

 

Tobacco is associated with a number of heath problems. When smoked, tobacco increase the risk of lung diseases, several types of cancers. But tobacco still remains in high demand and revenue from its sales keep increasing despite the risk factors associated with it.

BUA Group Set to Construct Petrochemical Refinery.

One of Africa’s conglomerate, BUA Group, has announced its plans to tap into the energy sector by building a 200,000-barrel per day capacity refinery in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

The group, a dominant player in the foods, mining and infrastructure business, has already signed an agreement with Axens of France for the supply of process technologies for what will be a 10 million tonnes per annum mega refinery and petrochemicals facility.

Set for a completion date of 2024, the multibillion-dollar integrated refinery and petrochemical plant aims at producing Euro-V fuels and Polypropylene for the domestic and regional market.

According to BUA, Axens was selected after a comprehensive process because of its advanced technology licenses, basic engineering, catalysts & adsorbents, proprietary equipment, training and technical services.

The landmark agreement was signed between the Chairman of BUA Group, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu, and the CEO of Axens, Mr Jean Sentenac, in a ceremony presided over by France’s Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, Mr Franck Riester.

The BUA Group Chairman and CEO said the “10 million tonnes per annum refinery and petrochemicals project is in line with BUA’s vision to develop local capacity in key industries where we can add the most value and where raw materials can be sourced locally.

“Once completed, this RFCC-based complex will produce high-quality gasoline, diesel, jet fuel meeting Euro-V specifications for the Nigerian market and the larger region.

“In addition, it will produce propylene, an essential component for the petrochemical industry used in polypropylene-based plastics and packaging.

“This project will help in reducing Nigeria’s dependence on imported fuels and petrochemicals.

“It is in the DNA of BUA Group to create efficient, innovative and sustainable businesses; look at our cement plants, the most sustainable in Nigeria, same with our sugar plants.”, Mr Rabiu added.

Mr Sentenac for Axens said: “We are delighted to be part of this strategic project providing the most advanced technologies on the market that are energy-efficient and ensure the production of high-quality fuels and petrochemical intermediates.

“This state-of-the-art integrated complex will allow BUA Group to develop its refining and petrochemical capabilities in Nigeria and produce highly valuable products for the domestic market. It is a great pleasure and pride to partner with them to concur to develop the Nigerian economy and ensure the success of this strategic state of the art project”.

The bidding process was managed by energy consultants KBR, which will also be handling subsequent rounds for the engineering and construction phase, currently underway.

The refinery will be built using an undisclosed mix of debt and equity with banks already in negotiations with the Group.

The new refinery project sets up a direct competition with Nigeria’s other large refinery project currently in progress by the Dangote Group, which is set for 2021 operational date. By comparison, this project will produce at least 600,000 barrels per day.

South Africa Launches Into Luxury Olive Oil Industry

The African continent is in the midst of an olive oil revolution, with South Africa joining the party. 

 

The country is becoming an increasingly important player in the international olive oil market, thanks to access to fertile soils, ample sunshine, and high-quality olives. South African olive oil is of excellent quality, owing primarily to its premium raw materials. 

 

Olives used for oil are mostly harvested by hand, which leads to an increased level of flavor and aroma. South Africa’s olives are also high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which render them exceptionally healthy. 

 

The country’s unique climate also plays an important role in its successful olive oil production. With an abundance of sun and rainfall balanced throughout the year, South Africa offers ideal conditions for ripening and developing olives. This, combined with the favorable soil quality, contributes to the superior flavor and aroma of the resulting olive oils. 

 

The new boom in South African olive oil has been driven by enterprising local farmers and entrepreneurs, many of whom have expertise in other branches of the agricultural industry and have now shifted their focus to olive oil production. This has meant that olive oil production is now taking place on a significantly larger scale, leading to more quantity and variety in products. 

South Africa’s olive oil market is on the rise, with demand booming as consumers look for healthier alternatives to cooking oils.

 

According to latest industry data, the market for olive oil in South Africa saw a 4.6% growth rate in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period last year. This increase in demand is backed by a growing appreciation for the health benefits of olive oil. 

 

“Olive oil can contribute to reducing the risk of serious health conditions such as stroke, coronary heart disease, and some types of cancer,” Dr Maryke Labuschagne, a registered dietitian from Unilever South Africa states.

 

As a result, people are switching up their kitchen cupboards for healthier options. The rise of the ‘clean-eating’ trend is spurring on the uptake of olive oil. 

 

Packaged goods manufacturer, Unilever, has been particularly keen to capitalize on this, rolling out new products endorsing the benefits of olive oil, such as its Olive Oil Beauty range. 

 

South African olive oil manufacturers have also moved to cash in on the growing demand. Many now invest heavily in marketing, from television campaigns to online advertising, in an effort to tap into the ever-expanding consumer market. 

 

This rising demand means older olive oil producers are now facing more competition from new entrants into the market. Some, like Gerrie Nel of Nel Olive Oil have seen their market share drop from over 50% to around 25%. Others, such as Laborie Olives, have had to diversify into new products such as flavored oils to appeal to modern tastes. 

 

Industry experts believe the market for olive oil in South Africa is still in its growth phase. Despite increased competition, olive oil producers remain optimistic about the future, with experts predicting further growth in the months and years to come.

12 years a musician: Nigerian singer Davido, fans celebrate timelessness after ‘Back When’.

  • Award-winning African Afrobeats singer, Davido, has remained in the news for different reasons lately.
  • African News, especially the entertainment beat, is still agog with news about Davido’s Timeless Album.
  • While that buzz is still on, the Nigerian Musician went online to celebrate his 12th year since he started music professionally.

On the 7th of May 2023, fans, friends, and family of Nigerian Award-winning Afrobeats singer, David Adeleke, popular as Davido, celebrated his first 12 years of making music professionally. The commemoration took the world back to when his debut song, ‘Back When, which features the rave of that era – Naeto C, was released as the prime single heralding his first album. ‘Back When’, a song from his 2012 debut album ‘Omo Baba Olowo’, was produced in London by Davido himself while popular African music video director, Clarence Peters, shot and directed the video that was first uploaded online on the 9th of May 2011. The song rose to become one of the biggest hit songs from Africa at that time, marking his full induction into the entertainment industry.

Davido and a vixen; shot from his music video. Credit: Youtube.

Through a post shared on his Twitter handle, Davido expressed his appreciation to God for the 12-year ride, he described himself as God’s child. “12 years ago, today I dropped my first single. God’s child”, he wrote, stating how happy he is that people still accepted the album Timeless, which has been breaking records since its release, even after 12 years of putting out music.

 

While on tour recently, to sell his new Album, a brief chat he had with someone showed up online where the singer showed how happy he is to see people the world over accepting his new work of art, according to him, when compared to the previous Albums, Timeless got a good reception. He also mentioned that he has always felt people’s indifference to his earlier albums but Timeless rose to a different level. He said: “I’m happy that people accepted Timeless and I feel they always doubted my album. It’s a different feel for me because people have never accepted my album, so this is a fresh one for me…I haven’t felt this before”. The singer, and father, who had stayed away from social media for a while, just after the loss of his son, expressed satisfaction and optimism about his music and social media comeback.

London, United Kingdom. January 27, 2019. Davido performs live on stage at The O2 Arena. Credit: Michael Tubi / Alamy Live News

He mentioned that the responses and positive reactions he has been receiving since TIMELESS dropped have been quite encouraging. Davido disclosed that he is just getting started, even though he admits that the journey has, so far, been heavy with breath-taking adventures. “This journey has been crazy, but we’re just getting started”: he says. He rose to prominence and popularity after he released ‘Dami Duro’, the second single from his debut studio album. With global prominence, an avalanche of awards, honorary mentions across different quarters, and worldwide recognition of his art, the singer has earned respect and recognition as one of the iconic names in the African music landscape.

 

Davido has remained a key source of entertainment news globally. He won the popular ‘next rated’ award category at The Headies In 2012. The 30-year-old father, in the last decade, has released hundreds of chart-topping songs like ‘Skelewu’, ‘Gobe’, ‘Aye’, ‘One of a Kind’, ‘Owo Ni Koko’, ‘Fall’, ‘If’, ‘Fia’Assurance’ and several other African hits. In 2019 he dropped A Good Time’, an Album that preceded ‘A Better Time’ which he released in 2020. ‘Timeless’, his 17-track fourth album was released on the 31st of March 2023, and it has continued to garner millions of streams across music platforms.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 24: Davido accepts The Best International Act Award onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images/AFP

The album also set a new record for the first-day streaming for an African album on Apple Music in the same month of March. Davido stands out as one of the most-followed African artists on social media. His frequent global tours are almost always sold-out events. A lot of fans believe that these first 12 years are only the beginning, just like the artist has emphasized. Considering his antecedents, do you feel Davido can comfortably remain on top of the African Music space for the next 12 years? Kindly share your thoughts in the comment section.

 

 

Cancer treatment: Ugandan joins African scientists improving cancer care in Africa.

  • Cancer care in Africa has received a shot in the arm after an indigenous invention sprang up in Uganda.
  • African scientists should be proud of their Ugandan colleagues who put together this health innovation.
  • Dr William Wasswa says the components of this machine are mostly sourced from the African continent.

 

In the western Ugandan city of Mbarara, the second largest city in Uganda after Kampala, Dr William Wasswa, an African scientist from Mbarara University of Science and Technology, commonly known as Mbarara University, has contributed to the newest treatments for cancer by manufacturing an automated digital microscope for the uncovering of cervical cancer to check the rising number of death cases.

 

Arial view of the western Ugandan city of Mbarara. Source: www.lakemburoparkuganda.com

 

Last month, in a chat with an online medium, Dr Wasswa mentioned that the affordable machine has several software and hardware inventions that make cancer diagnosis and patient record management quicker and more effective. According to a report published by a scientific journal, the innovative machine has an accuracy of around 97 per cent in detecting cervical cancer from body samples. According to Dr Wasswa, cancer samples in the country are currently analysed manually, and this, he said, is time-consuming, error-prone and has to be done by a trained cytopathologist – an expert in analysing body cells to diagnose disease. “This new technology can take five minutes for you to get the test results”, he said.

 

Explaining how the machine works, Dr Wasswa said, “You load the pap smear (tissue sample from the body) for cervical cancer test under the microscope and the computer does the analysis and gives you the results.” Dr Nixon Niyonzima who is the head of research at the Uganda Cancer Institute, UCI, said that he knows about the invention but is yet to use it to see how well it works. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2014 approximately 3,915 Ugandan women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and that 2,160, representing 55 per cent, died from the disease.

 

Sophisticated radiotherapy machine in a hospital in Uganda. Source: www.monitor.co.ug

 

The microscope is made up of main components including the camera for digitizing the sample’s image, the lead array for lighting, motors for driving the stage, which is where the sample is put, and electronics. “The software for analyzing the sample is the core part which takes most of the work,” Dr Wasswa said. He also mentioned that he put five years into developing the technology. “It was part of my PhD project, and I started a company out of it,” he said, adding, “The new tech also has software which keeps track of all patient’s details, sending them reminders. I have six of them [the microscopes] at the moment. But I am still improving the accuracy. The sensitivity is at 94 per cent and specificity is at 96 per cent.” Sensitivity here refers to the capacity to designate an individual with the disease as positive, while specificity is its ability to designate a person who does not have the disease as negative.

 

Also, artificial intelligence technology forms a part of the new device; the more tests it performs the more it trains itself to achieve more accuracy. “We are making the machine locally. All these things [parts] are 3d printed, and the electronics are assembled locally, so we just get a few motors and a camera. You do most of the work on the software,” Dr Wasswa said. He also pointed out that they are still in the primary phase of the clinical trial. “The trial is being sponsored by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK Royal Academy of Engineering. We got some funds from USAID that was the first batch for piloting the platform, the software part,” he said. He went on: “But then we are working with the Royal Academy to improve the microscope. We have Shs32m for the trial [so far]. I have tried to approach the government but I have received good feedback.”

 

Cancer care machine. Source: www.independent.co.ug

 

As soon as the new tech passes all three stages of clinical trial and is approved by the National Drug Authority, NDA, it could be more affordable for hospitals in different parts of the country to begin cancer screening and diagnosis in their facilities. “My machine costs around $300 (Shs1.1m) to $500 (Shs1.8m). The current (imported) microscope they use is about $21,000 (Shs78.1m). The new machine will be five to seven times cheaper than the current microscopes,” Dr Wasswa clarified.  With this innovation, not only Dr Wasswa put his name on the health map, but he also solved a significant African healthcare problem.

 

Zimbabwe Set To Improve Trade Footprint.

  • Zimbabwe is part of the “Let’s Build One Africa” business forum, where the economic potential of Africa is discussed.
  • Zimbabwe is strengthening its manufacturing value chains to increase productivity and enhance access to markets.
  • They have their sights set on competing in a free trade area.

Zimbabwe is part of the “Let’s Build One Africa” business forum, where the economic potential of Africa is discussed.

“Let’s Build One Africa” is a Business Forum currently underway in Cape Town, South Africa where authorities are looking at ways of accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Zimbabwe is part of this business forum.

Pan-African and global business leaders have graced these high-level panel engagements in South Africa discussing the economic potential of the “One African Market” through increasing intra-Africa trade under the AfCFTA initiative.

Africa in general, particularly Zimbabwe has a huge economic potential, regardless of this, some African countries have not benefitted and have remained net importers of goods. The Intra-Africa trade is currently at a disappointing 15 percent, despite the continent boasting of a massive market and a human capital base of 1.2 billion people with an estimated Gross Domestic Product of not less than 3.1 trillion united states dollars. This is the reason the business forum came into existence to mitigate this problem.

Zimbabwe is strengthening its manufacturing value chains to increase productivity and enhance access to markets.

This Monday, the minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr. Sekai Nzenza highlighted how Zimbabwe is strengthening its manufacturing value chains to increase productivity and enhance access to markets. “From a Zimbabwean perspective the government has been very supportive, especially to women-led business and it’s time for our local businesses to transform from SMEs to big corporates,” said Minister Nzenza.

They have their sights set on competing in a free trade area.

She also went on to point out how it is the only opportunity to compete in a free trade area. She said, “This is the only way that we can compete in a free trade area, and as Zimbabwe, we have our competitive advantages that we are taking advantage of and we are calling authorities to continue supporting Industry financially to excel”

Zimbabwe is looking to maximize the opportunities that abound within the African continent by exploiting the market presented by AfCFTA.

StreetNet International Congress gathers African informal traders, street vendors in Kigali.

  • Roadside traders and other informal economy workers around the world are to converge in Kigali, Rwanda, to address peculiar issues.
  • The congress advocates for recognition and inclusion of street businesses in Africa especially.
  • AfriSQuare’s African News focuses briefly on the varied expectations from the Conference.

StreetNet International, a global coalition of street vendors and informal traders, holds its 7th International Congress in May 2023. This event features over 150 workers from the informal economy, activists, street vendors, and invited visitors from several other trade unions drawn from more than 50 countries, from about four continents, who will all converge in Kigali, Rwanda, from the first day of May to the sixth, to deliberate on tactics on how to defend these workers’ right to decent work, recognition, and social protection as well as pertinent matters such as climate change.  It also delivers to the participants an opportunity to be a part of the May 1st International Workers’ Day celebrations.

 

African roadside vendors. Source: includeplatform.net

 

Oksana Abboud, International Coordinator, says “StreetNet International Congress is the biggest event for StreetNet family, as it is exactly the most crucial space to get together for all StreetNet members from around the globe, listen to them, collect their views and suggestions, share experience and knowledge, analyze and criticize as well as to adopt new policies and strategies on continuous institutional growth in building collective actions towards empowerment and strengthening StreetNet at different levels, especially to amplify the voice and influence of informal street and market vendors in their own countries and cities while advocating for their rights and all types of protection.”

 

For more than twenty years, StreetNet has built solidarity among workers in the informal economy around the world, creating a bond and uniting them behind a joint front recognized by multilateral establishments such as the United Nations’ Agency, International Labour Organization. StreetNet has been promoting basic labour rights of street vendors in Africa; it is also pushing for an expansion in its scope and coverage such that it can also cater for members across different nations of the world. Most informal traders, and several other informal economy workers, typically do not have enough access to social protection and are ignored or neglected during social dialogues and collective negotiations even though informal economy workers are vital contributors to all countries’ economies.

 

Street vendors in Zimbabwe, the country with the 2nd largest vendor population in the world. Source: www.zimbabwesituation.com

 

The President of StreetNet, Lorraine Sibanda, says “recognition for the workers in the informal economy is critical for the growth of any country. This will also facilitate the access to decent work for informal economy workers, a condition that is not met in many countries. There needs to be access to social dialogue, so that workers in the informal economy are at the table of negotiations, being in the position to articulate their own issues, as well as guide the national strategies on formalization processes and the extension of social protection. Workers in the informal economy are as legitimate as their counterparts in the formal economy”.

 

A vegetable vendor and his customer, in Kigali. Source www.jacarandafm.com

 

The 7th Congress is expected to set the agenda for, and pace of, continued development of global alliances in the next four years. The Congress is bent on continuing the fight for acknowledgement and demand for necessary rights. The Universal Congress will also have the stakeholders elect a new four-year term leadership, even as they debate, propose, and adopt fresh policies and resolves.  The Congress is built to be the utmost governing body of StreetNet, saddled with the principal responsibility of making key decisions.

 

Can this development be sustained? How wide and far can it spread? Kindly share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, do share with your friends.

Healthcare in South Africa progresses as Diabetes management enjoys technological boost.

  • While Diabetes keeps raging in most parts of the world, the Department of Health in South Africa as well as private health establishments are working assiduously to better the lives of people living with the ailment in the country.
  • Technology has proven invaluable in Diabetes management in the country.
  • While the ailment may be chronic, with sustained technological efforts it can be handled effectively.

Diabetes has long been classified as a chronic disease; it is a known source of challenges for patients and, if poorly managed, a known cause of blindness, renal failure, heart attack, and even death. According to the International Diabetes Federation, IDF, cited in www.africa.com, 24 million adults in Africa are currently living and dealing with diabetes, and by 2045, the number is likely to swell up to 55 million. In South Africa, healthcare is administered by the Department of Health. However, South Africa does not have a system of universal healthcare; a private healthcare system runs together with a public healthcare system and the systems have faced Diabetes headlong.

 

Source http://stock.adobe.com                  Source https://www.samagame.org

Source https://www.samagame.org                                               Source www.unsplash.com

The International Diabetes Federation also recently revealed in a report that roughly 4.5 million people live with diabetes in South Africa. The good news is that the 2020 Global Healthcare Index, puts South Africa’s healthcare system at number 49 out of 89 countries; also, the treatment range for managing the ailment has advanced speedily in recent times, with new and expanded technological inventions adding up to the development of new methods of dealing with diabetes, including the development of pills and other medications that lower glucose, as well as a broad list of insulin provisions that manage both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes more efficiently.

 

With this expansive list of effective glucose-lowering agents, remarkable progress has been made in diabetes technology. Diabetes technologies help people with diabetes manage blood glucose levels, avoid complications, improve patients’ quality of life, as well as lighten the load of living with diabetes. People living with diabetes used injectable animal-based insulin for years, but advancement in treatment have been made recently. Diabetes technology has come a long way. Devices are easier, from blood glucose meters and continuous glucose monitoring, CGM, to state-of-the-art insulin pumps.

 

Wearable technology has been introduced to ease the tracking of blood glucose levels over time and they are considered the most effective options for diabetes management. The CGM system is made up of a sensor, which is a small wire catheter inserted under the skin on the patient’s arm or abdomen, and a handheld receiver or smartphone that displays your glucose data in real-time.  Real-time CGM has become reliable and has demonstrated effectiveness in diabetes management, and daily monitoring of glucose levels.

                  Source www.hopkinsmedicine.org  Source www.hopkinsmedicine.org

 

The improvement in CGM system technology is evident in the Dexcom G7, recently launched in South Africa for diabetic two-year olds. This product’s launch signifies another milestone in the revolutionary diabetes management technology in South Africa. The Dexcom G7 is Dexcom’s most accurate CGM system ever developed. It has the fastest CGM in the market, a 30-minute sensor warm-up, and an improved alert settings for enhanced discretion, among several other features. The availability of Healthtech innovations like the Dexcom G7 will allow people with diabetes to live better lives despite their health conditions.

Source www.weforum.org Source www.weforum.org

Law student and a diabetes activist Thapi Semenya, has lived with the disease for more than 17 years, she is one of the benefitiaries of this technology in diabetes management. Her journey battling diabetes has been quite bumpy, like it has been for many. She has endured severe pains from needles. She sporadically experiences very high and low glucose levels without knowing. But now, with the availability of CGM, Thapi is living her life normally because she can monitor her glucose levels better. Indeed, an improvement in CGM, is still an integral part of diabetes management, in a world where the number of people with diabetes is rising.

There is little worry that South Africa may not surmount the possible health crises posed by diabetes. The country has seen substantive health sector reforms, and, yes South Africa boasts of the highest standard of healthcare in Africa with more than 200 private hospitals across the country. It is also a hugely famous destination for tourists and expats too, hence, South Africa’s healthcare system is regularly tested.

 

 

 

 

Egyptian craftsmen remain mosaic tradition custodians.

  • Craftsmen have continued to keep ancient Egyptian arts alive.
  • Mosaic designs are an integral part of the time-tested civilization of Egypt.
  • From tables to chess boards, beautiful everyday items keep emerging from seashells.

In the Egyptian town of Sakiet Al-Mankadi, little wrecks of seashells turn into beautiful works of art after groups of creative men go through hassles to collect small shards of the seashells, and artistically employ them in the making of decorative materials. After years of diligently making arts from seashell, the town of Sakiet Al-Mankadi has become well-known for this seemingly growing seashell industry because numerous items produced in this town from seashells are stocked up in shops in the Khan Khalili bazaar in Cairo, and even sent out of Egypt to patrons from beyond the shores.

 

The shells eventually end up as embellishments on boards that are used to decorate walls. The craftsmen are an essential factor in the making of these beautiful arts. In sourcing the shred of shells, they develop an eye for aesthetics; they know what shell works best. Then they deploy the requisite skillset to transform the wrecked shells into artistic masterpieces.

 

                   

 

But, beyond skill, another quality is essential: “you have to be patient so that you can create the design, a design can take an hour while another can take a day or even a month,” Kareem Saeed said. His workshop has continued to stand tall as one of the 40 workshops in the village where the craft is not only held high but also handed down from one generation to the next. Saeed went further: “you could say I was born here; I grew up here in my father’s workshop, in here I learnt all from A to Z.”

 

Designing in this type of craft has many stages that demand skills of cutting, designing and making the shell materials. The shells are collected and assembled from different countries including Oman, Australia, and sometimes Japan. The wood is from Domyat, or Damietta, a port city and capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. A craftsman, Ahmed Ali, using a specific type of machine, cuts the shells into usable pieces for the designers: “I am an expert here on this machine, I cut the seashells for the workers in all the different sizes and shapes we need, “Ali explains.

 

A lot comes from this raw material. Among other things, furniture, chess boards, tables, and gift boxes are just some of the marketable items that can be made. The tools and other items used to make this traditional craft are not cheap.

 

                         

 

Ammar, a craftsman who has worked in the industry for more than 40 years, is optimistic that the trade will get more recognition soon; he hopes for better acknowledgement of the craft pointing out that things had been tougher since COVID-19 and the attendant lull in tourism. “This craft is beautiful, I wish that the government and even the governorate would take more interest in it – especially the Menoufia governorate, because this industry here is considered a treasure in this governorate,” he says.

 

Creations from these pearls and shells are major items to be sold in Cairo shops. The craft is believed to be a durable type of décor, and this is gradually drawing people in from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, France, and Germany. The craftsmen also sell bespoke material designed based on preorder.

ALGERIA, UGANDA SIGN TRADE AGREEMENTS

 

  • The president of Uganda went on a 3-day visit to Algiers, during which two agreements and five MoUs were signed.
  • Algeria had shown a willingness to buy powdered milk worth $500 million and Uganda in turn will buy animal health drugs and others.
  • There will be improvements in production and quality of products to match the market requirements.

 

The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni was in Algiers for a 3-day visit, and during his meeting with the delegations, it was revealed that at least 150 Algerian representatives of private and public organizations are to visit Uganda soon to explore available business opportunities. During the course of the visit, two agreements and five memoranda of understanding were signed between the two countries.

 

 

 

In light of partnering together and growing the resources of Africa, the two countries have decided to partner up. Museveni said “We discussed issues on growing the prosperity of Africa; agreed to work together in the areas of trade, energy, education, agriculture, and counter-terrorism where they have experience in this, just like us.

 

We are looking at powdered milk which is already coming here, coffee, tea, and then products from Algeria of petroleum and petrochemicals.” Uganda is hoping to increase its agricultural exports to Algeria.

 

 

Algeria had also shown a willingness to buy powdered milk worth $500 million from Uganda, this was announced late last year after a meeting with the Algerian ambassador to Uganda.

 

Frank Tumwebaze, the minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries said apart from milk, the MoUs signed cover several other items, like education, animal health, oil and gas, tourism, and trade. “They will buy our powdered milk and coffee and later bananas. We shall in turn buy from them animal health drugs and others,” he said.

 

 

There will also be improvements in production and the quality of products in order to match the requirements of the market, this was confirmed by Tumwebaze. He further stated “Worry not anymore about the market for our dairy. The only condition is to perfect our value chain standards which so far have been approved!”

UGANDA, RWANDA TO BRING BUSINESS COMMUNITIES TOGETHER.

  • Delegations from Rwanda and Uganda held a meeting to bring together the business communities of both countries.
  • Issues to be addressed as soon as possible included the removal of all non-tariff barriers that still make it difficult for cross-border trade.
  • Uganda’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines, will soon launch direct flights to Kigali.

A popular saying goes that two heads are better than one, but what happens when two countries combine resources?

Last week, delegations from Rwanda and Uganda held a meeting that was capped by a forum that brought together business communities of both countries, where they discussed different areas of mutual benefit.

This is a commendable action between the political delegations as they considered bringing on board the private sector, whose forum was conveniently held after the meeting by politicians, to strategize on how they will leverage the rejuvenated diplomatic ties to shore up investments between the two countries.

The primary issues that were raised, were thought to be issues to be addressed as soon as possible included the removal of all non-tariff barriers that still make it difficult for cross-border trade. The politicians took note of this issue and promised to work towards addressing them.

A diplomatic impasse that lasted for close to four years has set the countries aback and the responsible parties are willing to do all that is necessary to hasten the process that creates an enabling environment for the business communities of the countries to thrive.

 Before the hitch, both countries had taken very impressive steps in breaking such barriers under what was called the Northern Corridor Integration Projects, during which both countries, together with Kenya allowed for the use of national IDs for citizens of either country to enter one of these countries.

Such initiatives are very critical in accelerating economic integration and the biggest beneficiaries are the small-scale cross-border traders, which then has a repo effect on the economies of the countries involved.

Another key takeaway from the meeting was the announcement that Uganda’s national carrier, Uganda Airlines, will soon launch direct flights to Kigali, which is worth celebrating by the business community since it means more variety in terms of air transport.

This is however not enough in terms of transport since very few afford air transport and therefore a more effective means of transport like a high-speed railway line would come in handy because it carries more people and the capacity to ferry merchandise is also much higher. Most importantly, it is much cheaper.

AFRICA: IFC Support Women-Led Businesses With 25 million Euros

  • In order to assist medium-sized and women-led businesses in Africa, the International Finance Corporation plans to make an equity investment of 25 million euros.

 

 

World Bank Group financing arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC) made an announcement on Wednesday, during its Vice President Sergio Pimenta’s two-day visit to Cairo that it plans to make an equity investment of about 25 million euros in Mediterrania Capital Partners’ Mediterrania MC IV fund, as it also looking to invest another 20 million euros subsequently. The two-day visit concluded on Tuesday.

 

 

 

The investment is to support the development of medium-sized companies in Africa, most especially firms being run or led by women. According to IFC, at least 25% of the money in the Mediterrania MC IV fund will go into companies or business run or owned by women. Only 6% of all private equity capital is distributed to women-led businesses in both the Middle East and Africa.

 

 

Private equity company Mediterrania Capital Partners is based in Malta and was established in 2013. It concentrated on growth investments in African mid-cap and small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The company makes investments in consolidated and expanding businesses with annual turnover ranging from $20 million to $300 million with market expansion plans in North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

Mediterrania IV will provide medium-sized businesses in the manufacturing, healthcare, fast-moving consumer goods, and financial services industries crucial growth capital, as these industries are all crucial to the expansion of African economies. Albert Alsina, the founder, and CEO of Mediterrania IV said they are providing assistance to thousands of people in Africa to have a better life thanks to the IFC’s trust in their investments.

 

 

Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat said that “the agreement supports IFC efforts with Mediterrania to boost development in manufacturing, finance, and healthcare, not only in Egypt but also in North and Sub-Saharan Africa”.

 

 

He continued by saying “Through this partnership, there is more potential to share knowledge and success stories in the continent to accelerate economic growth and poverty reduction as we work to create an enabling business environment in collaboration with the private sector”.

 

 

With a local presence in Morocco, Egypt, and Côte d’Ivoire, Mediterrania adopts a hands-on investment approach and offers its portfolio firms financial, strategic, and operational support to assist them in becoming regional or national leaders. More than 20,000 people are employed by the portfolio companies of Mediterrania Capital.To support Mediterrania in increasing the gender diversity of its investment team and portfolio companies, the IFC will offer training and advisory services. IFC’s third commitment to funds administered by Mediterrania Capital is the new investment. In 2013 and 2017, IFC made prior investments in Mediterrania II and Mediterrania III.

Zimbabwean women make money making more room for mushrooms.

 

  • “Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom”, says Thomas Carlyle.
  • These arty yet nourishing fungi are found in generous quantities in Zimbabwe.
  • Separating the edible ones from the poisonous ones is a vital skill.

 

In Zimbabwe, a group of women defy the odds in their search for mushrooms. A rich source of antioxidants, protein, and fiber, wild mushrooms have become a cherished delicacy as well as an income source in Zimbabwe, and these native women who are armed with the skill to tell edible and poisonous mushrooms apart, in wee hours, dutifully collect just enough mushrooms to push out for sale. These women, when they have gathered the mushrooms in marketable numbers, run to meet trucks on the Harare-Bulawayo highway hoping to persuade drivers to buy beautiful wild mushrooms from their harvest.

 

                   

 

The native women painstakingly scan through the land, identifying what type is good enough for their target market. But they must do so before sunrise because landowners may not be so welcoming. Diana Chiwara, a native mushroom picker said “this is the bush where we pick mushrooms, we wake up early morning around past 3 am and walk deep into this bush. We can’t come late in the day because it’s restricted to be in this place. The owners of this place don’t always allow people to come and pick mushrooms here. So, we come early and will be hiding from them, so that by the time it’s lunch time we are already leaving.”

 

Chiwara’s trip before dawn to the forest is just the first of several steps in the day-long process. She moves from the bush to a busy highway. She tidies up the mushroom, cleaning and scrapping where necessary, using a knife, then she joins the strong struggle involving other mushroom sellers; she is in competition, eager to entice passing motorists. Knowing what mushrooms to sell is a vital skill for this trade as several thousands of varieties exist.

                         

 

Not all the varieties are safe for use. While some are quite good for food like shitake, portobello, and the more popular ones sold in supermarkets, several other wild mushrooms can be gravely poisonous, causing stomach upset or other allergic reactions that could cause harm to the body. Expert knowledge as well as some trainings are necessary to learn which ones are edible. People who do not have the training are not to try picking mushrooms for human consumption. So, mothers in this African nation, who have been drilled on the fields and have also received handed-down trainings, pass down the requisite expert knowledge and training needed to their daughters, and the chain goes on.

 

 

One of the natives, Polite Mugobo, on her way out to collect mushrooms with her husband and son, spoke about mushroom picking, she says ‘’sometimes we meet thugs, and they steal everything from us. Sometimes the farm owners chase us from their land. So, we try to do this while hiding, it’s tough. We also have to be careful so that we don’t get attacked by dangerous wild animals.”  This family rakes through the land, defying the early morning dew, a task bigger than faint hearts. They screen litters of dry leaves and look under trees for shoot-ups. They gather enough, clean them up, and arrange them for sale. We sell this mushroom for US$1 a bowl like this during the rainy season. Our customers regularly stop on highway to buy mushrooms. On a good day or during the weekend we go home with about US $20 – $15 each,” Mugobo said.

 

 

 

An associate professor of horticulture at the Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology, Wonder Ngezimana, while speaking about the mushroom trade said that women like Mugobo are foremost players in Zimbabwe’s mushroom trade, “Predominantly women have been gatherers and they normally go with their daughters. They transfer the indigenous knowledge from one generation to the other,” she says. According to a research by Ngezimana and some of her colleagues at the university in 2021, about one in four women who search for wild mushrooms usually go with their daughters, save for “just few cases”  where the boys came along. About 1.4% of the boys follow their mothers to pick mushrooms, “mothers were better knowledgeable of wild edible mushrooms compared to their counterparts – fathers,” the researchers theorized.

 

 

The researchers conducted an interview with about a hundred people and meticulously observed mushroom collection in the district of Binga, western Zimbabwe, where Zimbabwe’s staple food, maize, suffers from droughts and poor land quality making it quite unviable in the district. So mushroom season is vital for the native families. According to the research, averagely, each family makes just above $100 a month selling wild mushrooms, even as they rely on the fruitful fungi for their own domestic subsistence. Though mushrooms are fast becoming key to household use, authorities routinely advise the people on the dangers of eating wild mushrooms.

 

In order to encourage safe mushroom consumption and income generation all year round, the government is backing small-scale profitable production of select types healthy for consumption like the oyster mushrooms. But the popularity of the varieties of wild mushroom are not waning at all.

Paving plastic paths: Egyptian startup turns waste to tiles.

 

 

  • Recyclable materials are one of the world’s gifts to mankind.
  • One can not only control the littering of the environments; one can also solve problems and make money from plastic waste.
  • An African brand has taken up the task of not just ridding the streets of plastic waste but also making tough thick tiles from the waste materials.

 

Rising levels of discharged pollutants from the building sector as well as loads of waste entering the Mediterranean Sea are some of the problems that a budding Egyptian company is working on as it aims to convert over five billion plastic bags into tough building tiles. It says the tiles are designed to be tougher than cement.

 

                   

 

The co-founder of Tile Green, the Africa-based brand that has embarked on this significant journey, Khaled Raafat, told Journalists that “so far, we have recycled more than five million plastic bags, but this is just the beginning, we aim that by 2025, we will have recycled more than 5 billion plastic bags.”

 

At the outskirts of Cairo, where the company’s factory is sited, workers are sighted carrying bulky barrels loaded with different plastic wastes to be heated into liquefication then, subsequently, compressed. What comes forth are solid tiles, assembled, packaged and sold to real estate developers and companies positioned as contractors for use in outdoor paving.

 

                       

 

Considering, and consolidating on, efforts being made by Egyptian authorities to alleviate the spread of improper refuse disposal, as well as monitor Egypt’s place in the pollution of the Mediterranean region, the company has kept an eye on the 74,000 tones of plastic waste that find their way into the sea every year. This, according to a 2020 report by a non-profit organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, ensures that Egypt’s ranking improves on the list of nature-friendly nations.

 

With this development, plastic wastes headed for the streets, to be disposed of in unapproved dumps, or to be burnt unceremoniously in a health-compromising way are converted into valuable materials used in the making of hard building tiles. Recall that the North African country of Egypt hosted the United Nations COP27 climate summit in November last year, and it has, ever since, sustained efforts in maintaining environment-friendly policies including banning the use of single-use plastics in several provinces of the country in recent years.

 

 

The country’s Environment Minister, Yasmine Fouad, while speaking with journalists at COP27, said the government was working with superstores and hypermarkets to end single-use plastics by the middle of the year 2023 and was targeting to place a nationwide ban on them by 2024.

 

Although some of these measures being put in place to convert waste materials into usable quality products are still not the strongest of steps yet but concerted efforts from all stake holders may help scale up the scientific, environment-friendly, yet large-scale disposal of waste.

 

 

The products from the plastics are expected to undergo tests for flammability, mechanical strength, and water absorption so as to conform with existing global standards. When the thick tiles emerge from all tests and processes that it has been subjected to, a solid building material will be introduced to support similar products in the global building market. Seeing that the products are made from plastic, they can be customized as well.

 

According to experts, apart from tile making or building, plastic waste materials can also be used in road constructions, paper making, and other areas. There is an urgent need to solidify the development and use of recycled or retreated waste by looking at the inherent potential of different kinds of waste materials.

 

 

Green Ghana 2023: Queen Mothers encouraged to begin bamboo farms.

  • Ghana’s potential in the area of agriculture is undisputed.
  • The authorities are making efforts to maximize Ghanian green lands for subsistence and commercial purposes.
  • Bamboo and rattan are invaluable plants grown in Africa.
  • Demand has been placed on the influences of the Queen Mothers of Ghana to enhance the growing of the cash plants.

Efforts are going into the restoration of Ghana’s landscapes, as well as into the lasting fight against global warming; and the country’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, in collab­oration with the Forest Plantation Fund Board, organized a two-day preparation workshop for Asanteman queen mothers on bamboo farms development.

 

This supports the government’s tree planting works, as at least 22,671,696 trees planted in 2022 outdid the government’s target of 20 million trees across the 16 regions of Ghana. The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources of Ghana, Samuel Abu Jinapor, said that the government hopes to plant no fewer than 10 million trees this year under the Green Ghana program. Speaking on the downward review of the number of trees to be planted, the Minister said that government wants to be more dedicated and devoted to nurturing the over 30 million trees planted already in recent years so that all the trees can reach maturity as soon as possible.

                     

The workshop, strategically placed to leverage on the immense traditional and political powers of the revered queen mothers’ stools, follows the  government’s prior regeneration moves, and comes after the Minister had visited Ashanti Region in De­cember last year to enlist the support of the queen mothers in fighting against unlawful mining, and to promise them that they will be integral parts of the 2023 Green Ghana agenda aimed at planting bam­boos in marketable amounts.

                           

While speaking with the queen mothers at the workshop, in Kumasi, on the 9th of March, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Lands and For­estry, Mr. Benito Owusu-Bio, expanded on the pertinence of the workshop to the govern­ment since it acknowledges the potential of bamboo and rattan resources as valuable materials that can better the live­lihoods of several scores of inhabitants around forest ecosystems.

 

He went on to expound the benefits of the workshop, among other things, clarifying that queen mothers will be armed with good knowledge and insight into the degree to which bamboo and rattan in Ghana could aid sustenance of communities; he pointed to the vast prospects in the area of job creation, especially for youngies and women alike. He believed that the workshop would birth critical outcomes as it would increase the number of stakeholders, in government and private settings, putting in efforts to meet the planting goals in the country’s Forest Plantation Strate­gy, which plans to establish more than 500,000 hectares of new bamboo plantations between 2015 -2040.

                   

Owusu-Bio reassured the queen mothers that the first sensitization package was simply to kick off, that the Minis­try would assemble more resources to spread the program to other regions so as to optimize the bamboo industry. “I wish to assure you of the unflinching support of my Minister and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to support this initiative. We will do our maximum best to provide the necessary technical and logistical support to promote this bamboo plantation development enter­prise,” he said. He also counselled the Forestry Commission, the Director of In­ternational Association of Bam­boo and Rattan Development, INBAR, and the Plantation Fund Board to continue providing the needed backing to ensure that the program succeeds.

 

The queen mother of the Mampong traditional area, Nana Agyakuma Difie II and Chairman admonished the queen mothers to see the programs as an opportunity to advance, as well as a responsibility to their children and yet-to-come generations seeing that with one swoop, global warming is reduced and the government’s reafforesta­tion agenda gets a shot in the arm. While motivating them to take up the project heartily and make it a reality, she stressed that the bamboo project was not exclusive to Asanteman queen mothers but for all Ghanian queen mothers and women traditional authority figures countrywide.

                         

In his own statement, the Board Chairman of the Forestry Plantation Fund Board and Chief of Chiraa traditional area, Nana Osei Yaw Barima, promised a smooth and cooperative partnership with the queen mothers to see the bamboo project through to a resoundingly successful end. Mr Joseph Osiakwan, the Technical Director for Forestry at the Ministry, in his short presentation on the justification for the workshop, expressed hope that queen mothers will have adequate knowledge on growing healthy bam­boo and making vital marketable products from the plant by the end of the two-day workshop.

                       

Bamboo and rattan come in handy in the making of fanciful Furnitures, mats, decorations, as well as other household and fashion items, and with these products boldly taking their places in the global market, producers of bamboo and rattan are in for a swell time. With about one million hectares of home-grown bamboo, Ethiopia sits kingly as the biggest bamboo grower in Africa. It houses about 67% of all African bamboo.

Kenya leads world tea production, exportation.

  • Because tea is in high demand globally, efforts are being made by primary growers of the product to double up on production.
  • Africa is at the fore front of tea production and export globally.
  • Kenya, though not necessarily a major consumer, has sustained its position as a leading grower of different types of tea in the world.
  • Other than water, tea follows as a highly consumed beverage; next to China and India, Kenya is big on the global tea production stage.

 

Next to water, tea is the world’s most consumed drink; this accounts for its high demand across the world, and Kenya has stood tall as the only African country to be listed in the top ten tea manufacturing countries worldwide, and the biggest global exporter of black tea particularly.

                

Tea has remained a major cash crop grown in Kenya and has been a leading source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. Regarding cultivation of the leaves, Kenya produced over 400 thousand tons of tea in 2022 thanks to the estimated 500,000 small-scale Kenyan farmers that grow tea across the country on approximately 236,000 hectares of land. The country’s regions that are famous for tea distribution include the Nyambene Hills, Kericho region, and Nandi. Many teas are produced in Asia and being the birthplace of the product, it is understandable that China sits on the very top of the ladder as the leader of the industry, in terms of production and even consumption. However, the input, innovation, and significant contribution of this younger participant in the industry, Kenya, has quickly earned it a spot as the largest exporter of black tea in the world.

                 

Although Kenya is in Africa, its location close to the equator positions it for sufficient sunlight and ideal conditions to grow the plants. Other environmental factors, including high elevation in the mountains and an excessively rich volcanic soil, have made it favorable for the plants to thrive. This has subsequently enabled tea farmers in Kenya to grow an immense amount of the product and harvest some of the best teas the world has reckoned with. Kenya produces a lot of black tea and several other types of teas including green tea, yellow tea, and white tea grown on request by key tea producers, but one unique tea native to the country is the Kenyan Purple Tea. Purple leaf tea was developed in Kenya about 25 years ago. It is called the purple leaf tea because of its signature purple and healthy-looking leaves with high levels of antioxidants. It is believed to contain even more age-defying antioxidants than the green tea with potentials to curb cancer and other ailments.

                   

This unique-tasting tea carries quite a smooth tang; rather than having a grassy taste, it has more of melon and honey flavors. Many also love and prefer the purple tea because it is low on caffeine, so it works well for a quick afternoon shot of antioxidant.  Tea lovers have found that adding some lemon juice to purple tea changes its color to peach or even gold. China produces about 2,400,000 tons of tea yearly, this puts the country on the number one spot among biggest producers, exporters, and, to some extent, consumers of tea in the world. It exports 40% of the total tea in world. India is popular for being the second highest tea producing country in the world accounting for about 1,250,000 tons annually.

                     

Kenya got acquainted with tea in 1903, it became a profit-oriented venture in 1924 when Malcom Bell stepped in for the company Brooke Bond, and it has been a key stapple in the African country ever since. The annual tea production in Kenya exceeds 500,000 tons, this makes it the third biggest producers globally; and number one producer of black tea globally. In Mombasa, a coastal city in southeastern Kenya along the Indian Ocean, tea is sold through automated public auction for an international community. In October 2011, tea was averagely actioned at $3.22 per kilogram.

Africa’s oldest restaurant validates continent’s timeless cuisine.

  • The oldest restaurant in Africa, Café El M’Rabet, maintains the spirit of its founders.
  • Its staying power has also demonstrated the longevity of African staples.
  • Other than the classic meals, it has served as a nostalgic spot for relaxation.

In 1628, minister Ali Thabit, in Tunisia, put together what is now considered the oldest restaurant in Africa, and one of the oldest in the world – Café El M’Rabet, in Tunis. The classic restaurant is cited steps away from the Zaytuna Mosque, or popularly called the Zitouna Mosque by many who believe the restaurant itself was founded as a part of the Mosque.

 

Regular features of the restaurant include live music usually served in the evenings – a tradition that has continued up till today. The beautiful space also provides an outdoor beer barn.

                     

The historic Jemâa Ezzitouna marketplace enjoys a pleasant viewpoint from the famous and ever bustling El M’Rabet restaurant giving it a majestic and relaxing feel. Also, the time-tested restaurant serves pies and roasts, inspired by the old-style British tavern foods.  It has promptly responded to times and seasons, but it is yet to lose its ancient flavor and appeal. Young and old, natives and tourists, from time to time, visit this classic food spot in North Africa. Not only has it validated the time-tested cuisines of Africa, but it has also proven to be a favorite tourist destination, and a reliable spot for hospitality.

 

Not only is it one of the oldest, but it has also registered its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Africa particularly, and in the world generally, paying attention to different languages as many clients visit the spot from various parts of the world, hence commination should not pose a challenge.

                       

Recently, clients who visited the classic restaurant observed that the services are top-notch, pointing out that the only possible glitch is the wait – a lot of people from different parts of the world visit the restaurant, hence it welcomes tons of food and fun lovers daily. Iraqi Anni-Voo Duhok said after her recent visit to the restaurant that “I was very empty during the lunchtime so was lucky to have excellent attentive service. As I don’t know French, the manager kindly explained to me with English and Arabic the dishes, the vegetables with lamb that I ordered were delicious and the Arabic coffee at the end was amazing. Plus, they also had a nice selection of starters. Veryt central location and there is also livelier coffeeshop downstairs.” The foods, the consistency of service, as well as the retention of ancient values, styles and cuisines, have singled out Café El M’Rabet from the pack.

EGYPT: BOOSTING WHEAT SELF-SUFFICIENCY.

  • African countries are bringing up programs to mitigate the food crisis.
  • Egypt aims to produce 70% of local wheat by 2030.
  • Plans to acquire more silos for storage.

Global factors like climate change in Africa, inflation worldwide, and a surge in global food prices have caused devastating global ripples, indirectly leading to the food crisis. So many African countries are now working so hard to mitigate the food crisis problem by creating some agricultural programs.

In this same vein, Egypt now aims to produce 70% of local wheat by 2030. According to the director of the field crops research institute, Reda Mohamed, they have succeeded in increasing the land cultivated with wheat to 3,650,00 Feddans in 2023, with an annual increase of 250,000 Feddans to raise productivity gradually between 65% to 70% by 2030. He continued, “it is targeted this year to reach about four million Feddans with a total productivity of 12 million tons, which achieves 55 percent of consumption locally.” he added to his remarks that this came in light of the expansion of land reclamation through giant national projects in eastern Owainat, Toshka and the future of Egypt. In addition to maximizing productivity by developing new seed varieties capable of adapting to modern irrigation methods and climatic conditions, the statement added. These projects also aim to increase the number of pilot fields to 7000 fields in all villages to educate farmers about proper agricultural practices.

The limitation of this program is the shortage of arable land and water so Egypt is looking to tighten up the storage and logistics links in its grain supply chain to reduce import costs. To compensate for this limitation, they are also stepping up measures to ensure that the maximum possible of each harvest reaches the mills safely and in good condition; It is believed that much of the loss from wastage as a result of losses while in store will be prevented by upgrading the network of silos across the country and planned improvements to logistics services.

There is already a plan put in place to acquire more silos to improve the preservation of the wheat set to be produced locally.

Made-in-Togo products get more accessible with local App

Inspired by peculiar market circumstances in the west African country of Togo, the DuSa Application, a search platform for selling local products, with more than 1,000 products already listed therein and more than 400 local product sales brands registered on the platform, offers patrons an avenue for interface with product agents, as well as provides information on prices and availability of products.

 

Dodji Tchalla, a young Togolese digital businessperson who is the brain behind DuSa, says the app lets clients search for local items’ sales platforms around them, suggesting that the app is gradually tackling the problems of low interest in Togo-made products and poor accessibility of products in the markets.

 

According to Abide Balouki, the Togolese promoter of Abi Food, increasing her clientele base and turnover was quite challenging until she put her local products store on the platform. She has since seen a significant increase in her following and, by extension, her business.  “The sale of local products is not well appreciated by the Togolese population. But we can say that this is starting to change. The fact of having more customers already brings more turnover” Balouki said.

 

Tchalla told journalists that he has recorded about an 80% satisfaction rate among the users of the app. He mentioned that people were quite sceptical initially seeing that it was new, but the enthusiasm about the app is rising fast today.

 

Kpatcha Akaba, a user of the Dusa app, says “The application has allowed me to have easy access thanks to the sales points. Currently, there is even a way to find a point of sale that is very close to us.”

 

According to first-hand feedback from users, the DuSa app has gradually positioned itself as an optimized search tool for the points of sale of local products, but beyond that, the application also seeks to serve as a platform where financial establishments and their support structures can get reliable statistics.

 

This digital key seems to have brought hope to entrepreneurs who deal with made-in-Togo products. It is also serving the local business community as a digital display for local products.

ILLOVO SUGAR GROUP BREAKS PERSONAL RECORDS.

Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc is Africa’s leading and diversified sugar group. They are an agri-business that specializes in growing sugar and making sugar-related products.

The outbreak of Covid-19 crippled some businesses and others are still struggling to get on their feet. Illovo Sugar has started rising from the rut covid-19 placed on companies.

On Tuesday, 7th of February, Illovo Sugar announced their company had made a net profit of K26.6 billion in the 2022 financial year. The announcement was made during the company’s investor forum at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotels. Illovo Sugar Managing Director, Lekhani Katandula also declared K14.9 billion as a dividend.

The company’s revenue increased by 14% from 163 billion in 2021 to K187 billion in 2022 with net debt reduced by 153% from K9.9 billion to K5.3 billion while free cash flow increased from K25.7 billion to K34.9 billion which represents a 36% increase.

They faced so many challenges but responded to them squarely; they ran efficient forms of irrigation, a program called Agricultural yield recovery, and updated pest and disease control strategy and cost rationalization to mitigate revenue losses. There was also an enhanced quality focus to reduce bulk sugar production in favor of higher margin sugars and initiated energy projects by reducing demand and increasing generation and power supply.

Their product is affordable for low-income earners and is also one way of enhancing hygiene.

SUEZ CANAL ACHIEVES ITS HIGHEST MONTHLY REVENUE.

In January 2023, the Suez Canal International Waterway achieved a record-breaking revenue in its history. The announcement was made on Thursday by Osama Rabie, the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority.

Osama Rabie said, 2,155 ships transited the canal from both ways in January 2023, compared to 1,774 boats in January 2022. The record is a 21.5% increase. It recorded $802 million surpassing the record achieved in August.

Osama Rabie added that navigation statistics in the canal in January recorded the highest monthly transit rate of oil tankers with the passage of 677 tankers.

Statistics also show a rise in the monthly net tonnage crossing the canal to a record 123.5 million tons against 106.2 million tons in January last year.

The number of bulk ships that transited the waterway increased by 17.1%, while car carrier ships increased by 16.3%, manifesting the success of the new marketing and pricing policies adopted by the authority.

He attributed these unprecedented indicators to the navigation strategy adopted by the canal authority over the past few years that helped to maintain the global ranking of the canal as the shortest, fastest, and safest maritime route in the world.

In 2022, the Suez Canal revenues hit a record of $8 billion, from $6.3 billion in 2021.

 

E-hailing drivers secure first government-approved trade Union in Africa.

Uber and Bolt drivers in Nigeria seem to have carved out a unified front for themselves to aid their well-being as well as address issues affecting their security as the Nigerian authorities gave the nod for the trade union AUATWN – Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transport Workers of Nigeria, to be registered, making the AUATWN a first; the first recognized trade Union for e-hailing drivers in Africa.

 

The approval came in a letter from the Trade Union Services, and Industrial Relations Department of the country’s Ministry of Labour and Employment.  Part of the letter reads:

“I am directed to refer to your application letter dated 27th April 2021, written pursuant to Section 3 of the Trade Unions Act, CAP. T14 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2014, addressed to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment for the Registration of the above-named organization as a trade union.

“I am further directed to inform you that after extensive consideration of your application, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment has approved the registration of your organization as a Trade Union with rights and privileges as stipulated by the Trade Unions Act, cited above.”

                         

The Trade Unions Act, with this development, has empowered the AUATWN by law to help determine the terms and conditions of drivers working in any app-based transportation company.

 

The founding Secretary-General of the association, Comrade Ibrahim Ayoade, mentioned that the move to unionize app-based drivers began in 2016 when Uber cut the revenue of drivers to 40% without due consultations with them, this impelled him to mobilize drivers across the country to step up as a solid and united body seeking better working terms.

 

“We operate in the informal sector of the economy therefore we need protection from app-based companies. They use our expertise to make money for themselves without consulting us during important decision-making. But with a government-approved Union like AUATWN, all that will stop. We can now negotiate with them to recognize what we are passing through when we carry out our duties.” He said, adding that “App-based companies have leveraged on divide-and-rule methods to subjugate drivers for years but now we are regaining control of our network.”

 

The AUATWN Secretary-General also revealed that the union is a merger of three unions that existed hitherto into one unified block to protect the interests of Nigerian app-based drivers. The three bodies that blended include the National Union of Professional App-based Transport Workers (NUPA-BTW), the Professional E-hailing Drivers and Private Owners Association of Nigeria (PEDPAN) and the National Coalition of Ride-Sharing Partners (NACORP).

 

Uber and Bolt both pulled up on the shores of Africa bearing several gains and shortcomings. While drivers on the platforms enjoy the incomes, they have also suffered from several problems ranging from poor welfare to peculiar occupational hazards, and exploitation.

               

These inequalities have pushed drivers to push for some control, including the freedom to either decide their charges or get a better percentage of their income. In Ghana, drivers want to keep 85% of the fares while paying 15% to the app companies.

 

As the continent continues to embrace gig work, regarded as a side hustle because of its nature, there have been unceasing arguments on whether gig work should be regulated and unionized or not. But, in most parts of Africa, one man’s side hustle can be another man’s main survival source. This has made unionizing App-based drivers a welcome development, according to many.

BBS MALL; THE LARGEST MALL IN EAST AFRICA.

On Friday, the Cabinet Secretary for Trade, Investment, and Industrialization, Moses Kuria, toured the BBS Mall in Eastleigh, Nairobi to inspect its business readiness. He confirmed that the mall was ready for business.

 

According to the Cabinet Secretary, it is the largest in East and Central Africa. Local and international brands are already fighting for spaces at the mall. It is projected that the mall will get over 150,000 visitors daily.

 

The mall will feature more than 3,500 shops, 3 hospitals, 32 restaurants, 12 banks, a 7-Star hotel, 364 toilets, and 2,200 parking spaces.

 

Nicknamed little Mogadishu based on the Somali community who fled the civil war from the horn of Africa nation Somalia. Eastleigh area in Kenya’s capital is known for its thriving businesses.

 

Business strategists and architects describe it as a world-class interactive and integrated mixed-use development project. 

 

BBS wrote on its official Instagram page “Business Bay Square mall is modeled to be a one-stop center for commerce that offers the ultimate shopping experience, Business Bay Square comprises several levels of retail space that includes a Souk Market and a variety of shops”

 

NAIROBI TO UNVEIL LARGEST MALL IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

The Nairobi business hub is set to launch the largest mall in Sub-Saharan Africa. With over 50 shopping malls, the Business Bay Square (BBS) mall in Eastleigh Nairobi, is one of modern and biggest malls in East Africa.

 

BBS mall is described as a world-class interactive and integrated mixed-use development project. It’s expected to be a game changer, having 3,500 shops, 3 hospitals, 12 banks, a 7-star hotel, 32 restaurants, 364 toilets and 2,200 packing spaces.

 

The developers say that there is high demand for shop space at the BBS mall from local and international brands. The mall is expected to get over 150,000 visitors in a day. 

 

According to a member of the Eastleigh Business Community, Ahmed Asmali, “there are businesses on a waiting list waiting to occupy and this is because of the huge demand for shops in the area which is essentially the country’s business nerve centre”.

 

The Eastleigh mall is estimated to host investments worth billions of shillings and contributes at least 30% of taxes collected by Nairobi county. 

 

The Business Bay Square (BBS) mall wrote on its instagram page that the “mall is modelled to be a unique one-stop centre for commerce that offers the ultimate shopping experience, which comprises several levels of retail space that include a Souk Market and a variety of shops”.

Uganda to begin oil production, targets 2025 yield.

As Uganda advances toward its aim to begin oil production in 2025, the first oil drilling program has been launched in the east African country recently.

 

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, PAU, announced on Twitter that Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, “has officially commissioned the start of the drilling campaign on the Kingfisher oilfield.”

 

The Kingfisher field is part of the ten-billion-dollar arrangement to advance Uganda’s oil reserves under Lake Albert, west of the country, and build a massive pipeline to move the crude into the global markets through an Indian Ocean route in Tanzania.

 

Commercial amounts of petroleum had been found in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas nearly two decades ago, but production remained stalled by infrastructural deficits.

 

The Kingfisher field, run by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CNOOC, in its peak performance, is projected to yield 40,000 barrels of oil per day, PAU mentioned.

               

The country’s energy minister, Ruth Nankabirwa, told journalists recently how excited the country and continent are about the development.

 

The Petroleum Authority of Uganda, PAU, the petroleum sector’s official regulator, said President Yoweri Museveni strategically sited the program in the Kingfisher project zone, one of the country’s two profitable oil development areas.

                   

France’s TotalEnergies, which co-owns all of Uganda’s existing oilfields together with the state-run Uganda National Oil Company, UNOC, and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, CNOOC, operate Uganda’s second project site, Tilenga, which was discovered in 2008, north of Lake Albert, on both sides of the River Nile.

While the country’s crude contents are pegged at 6.5 billion barrels, when it all peaks, Uganda ultimately plans to put out about 230,000 barrels of crude oil daily.

MOROCCO AND CHINA HAVE SIGNED THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT TO LAUNCH THE MEGA TECH CITY PROJECT.

The Mohammed VI Tangier Tech City project was first proposed in 2016. It is a $10 billion project with the Chinese group Haite to develop an industrial city that will host up to 300,000 locals. It envisions a large Chinese-style park on the edge of the Mediterranean, built on about 2,500 acres with room to expand up to nearly 5,000 acres.

 

The deal was finalized at a ceremony in Rabat attended by a number of Moroccan ministries, including industry and trade, water, economy and finance, as well as the Tangier regional council, the Bank of Africa, the Tangier Mediterranean Special Agency and the Tangier Tech Management Company.

 

From the Chinese, executives from Beijing Zhonglu Urban Development Corporation, China Communications Construction and its subsidiaries China Road and Bridge and CCCC Investment.

 

It aims to create a sustainable, integrated and intelligent industrial city that will inject a new dynamic into the economic activities of the kingdom and consolidate its anchoring in the Euro-Mediterranean, according to a press statement from the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It will host about 200 chinese companies.

It will include a 947-hectare industrial acceleration zone, where the main manufacturing plant will be located, as well as, a 1,220-hectare smart city made up of residential, leisure, tourism developments, also including the public infrastructure necessary for the proper functioning of the city.

 

The businesses will be in different sectors which will include automotive, aerospace, textile, electronics and machinery factories on site.

 

During the signing ceremony, the minister for industry and trade, Ryan Mezzour said “it is an industrial megapole that will support our national and industrial strategy and thus strengthens Morocco’s international attractiveness and competitiveness”.

 

The project that was originally sponsored by Haite Group is now sponsored by China Communications that signed a memorandum of understanding with the Moroccan government on the 26th of April.

 

The completion of the project is now slated for 2027.

ANGOLA DISCOVERED A NEW OIL BLOCK WITH CAPACITY TO PRODUCE 40,000 BARRELS OF OIL PER DAY.

Angola is known as Africa’s second largest oil producer. Recently, the National Agency for Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels, ExxonMobil Angola and the Angola Block 15 partners announced a new discovery at the Bavuca South-1 exploration well.

 

The well happened upon 98 feet of high quality hydrocarbon bearing sandstone. This is located approximately 365 kilometers Northwest off the coast of Luanda and was drilled in 3,608 feet of water by the Valaris DS-9 rig.

 

The president of ExxonMobil, Liam Mallon said “ExxonMobil is optimizing this resource and delivering value to the people and government of Angola, our Block 15 partners and our shareholders. Our development strategy continues to deliver, providing affordable energy to meet increasing global demand while reducing emissions. In Angola, we have reduced greenhouse emissions by 74% since 2016”.

 

ExxonMobil is leading the installation of new technology and a multi-year drilling program aimed at producing approximately 40,000 barrels per day, although the Bavuca South-1 well is part of the Angola Block 15 redevelopment project. This new development will aid to offset natural production declines.

 

In nearly 20 years there have been up to 18 discovery on Block 15; Hungo, Kissanje, Marimba and Dikanza in 1998; Chocalho and Xikomba in 1999; Mondo, Saxi and Batuque in 2000; Mbulumbumba, Vicango and Mavacola in 2001; Reco Reco in 2002; and Clochas, Kakocha, Tchihumba and Bavuca in 2003. 

 

THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT HAS OPENED THE LARGEST MOTHER AND CHILD HOSPITAL AS WELL AS OTHER RECORD BREAKING PROJECTS IN YOBE STATE.

The Nigerian President was in Damaturu, Yobe State on the 9th of January where he commissioned the new Police Headquarters. In line with this, President Muhammadu Buhari also commissioned Nigeria’s largest mother and child hospital, four ultra modern markets with 3,200 shops, a new cargo international airport , seven primary schools and 3,600 house units.

 

The governor earlier mentioned his intentions to build the largest mother and child hospital in Nigeria and he is satisfied that he has done just that. This project is an important one to him because he wants to check the menace of maternal and child mortality and morbidity in the state. According to the statement made by the Director General, Press Affairs and Media, Alhaji Mamman Mohammed, he said “His Excellency, Hon Mai Mala Buni holds the project dear to his heart to check the menace of maternal and child mortality and morbidity”. He also went ahead to explain that the project is part of a holistic approach to providing accessible and affordable healthcare to the people of Yobe State. 

 

The ultramodern market project was executed by the governor to boost the economic development of the people of that area.

 

The president was also received at the new cargo international airport.

 

He also commissioned the affordable housing unit built by the governor to increase the standard of living of its citizens.

 

Many governors are taking initiatives and developing their states, thereby increasing the standard of living of their citizens and making the society more suitable.

 

EGYPT SET TO OPEN AFRICA’S BIGGEST MACHINE TOOL FACTORY.

The Arab Organization for industrialization signed a partnership contract with DMG MORI to establish a factory for the production of CNC programmed automatic control machines in Egypt.

 

The Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, President of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Abdel Moneim al-Tarras, along with the General Manager of the company and Mahmoud Ali, Managing Director of the company in Africa were all in attendance in the meeting. 

 

The contract includes the manufacturing of a fully automated and highly programmable factory for the production of turning equipment on an area of about 60,000 square meters near Cairo Airport. 

 

This production is aligned to produce an annual capacity of 1,000 machines. This guarantees the industrialization of the nation while creating so many job opportunities for the masses. The revenue to be generated from this establishment will be massive too.

 

These sorts of establishments can only fully be utilized by well-qualified employees and as such, DMG MORI offers particularly young people good prospects with targeted training and further education programs for industrial manufacturing. They will offer state of the art CNC training in the new production plant.

 

Because of the fast growing developments, the industrialization of the nation, DMG OMORI is also planning a major training offensive at Egyptian schools and universities to prepare the predominantly young and motivated population.

 

This is the biggest and the first machine plant in Africa; it is made in Africa for Africa. The grand opening of this plant is in Autumn of 2023.