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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Germany, Algeria Strengthen Energy Partnership.

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

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

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

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

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

ALGERIAN HYDROGEN AMBITIONS

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

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

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

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

 

Morocco, African Development Bank Sign Financing Agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seychelles Hosts Inaugural IFBB Event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She said she was hoping to get more local participants.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Algerian-Sahrawi Trade Union Solidarity Week.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Morocco, UAE Sign MoU to Enhance Cybersecurity Cooperation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Travels Award 2023: Seychelles Clinches an Award.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mozambique to Sign More Contracts for Offshore Hydrocarbon Exploration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Inclusive Tourism in South Africa; Tourism Minister Signs MoU.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Senegalese Pair Win Caine Prize.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bright Spots; Pockets of Resilience Identified by World Bank.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Djibouti Inaugurates First-ever Green Energy.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

GEB 2023: Zim Exhibit Pleases Botswana President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugandan Start up Turns Banana Stems Into Useful Fiber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The company exports its rug and lampshade products to Europe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zimbabwe Gold Delivery increases by 26.24% in September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zambian Government Set to Introduce Incentives in 2024 National Budget.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Africa Hosts Climate Summit Ahead of COP28.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Egypt Hosts Training Course With COMESA Monetary Institute.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

African Youths Named Among Commonwealth Youth Award Finalists.

The Common Wealth Youth Awards is an award that celebrates young people from the Commonwealth who are leading outstanding development in their communities. This award is linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Awards give international recognition to youth-led projects ranging from poverty alleviation to promoting and enhancing democracy.

Ghislain Irakoze, the founder and CEO of Westezon, a Rwandan green tech startup, has been named among 20 finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work 2023.

According to The Commonwealth, the 20 finalists were identified as changemakers who are actively making progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They were selected from a group of 50 shortlisted young leaders.

Irakoze made it to the top four regional finalists alongside Mawuse Christina Gyisun from Ghana, Deliwe Makata from Malawi, and Emmanuel Tlemu from Tanzania.

Each of the 20 finalists will receive a trophy, a certificate, and £1,000 as their prize. The top finalist from each region will be recognized as the regional winner and will receive £3,000. One of the five regional winners will then become the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2023 and be awarded £5,000.

Speaking to The New Times, Irakoze expressed excitement about the opportunity and Westezon’s plans to expand operations within and outside of Rwanda, using the recognition as a platform for visibility among potential supporters.

He attributed their success to a clear value proposition for their solution, impactful projections for the next two years, and a strong leadership team.

Wastezon’s mission revolves around providing consumers, manufacturers, and recyclers with efficient tech-empowered traceability services.

Irakoze mentioned one of their project which aims to reduce e-waste pollution by extending the lifespan of electronic devices and promoting the use of quality, used products, aligning with climate action and sustainable consumption goals.

“We have a platform called Waste Zone 2.0, which facilitates the exchange of products between our sellers and buyers. In our refurbishment lab, we inspect all materials that are intended to be transacted on the platform to ensure device quality before they are listed. On the other hand, we also assist recyclers and manufacturers in acquiring materials that have a short production period. We have one model targeting consumers, sellers, and buyers, and another model aimed at manufacturers and recyclers interested in acquiring recyclable e-waste,” he explained.

The Commonwealth Youth Awards will be one of the main side events of the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM), which takes place from 11-15 September 2023. Ministers and senior officials from across 56 nations will gather at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth headquarters, to deliberate on proposals, share best practices, and decide on plans to support young people across the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth’s Head of Social Policy Development, Layne Robinson, said: “These awards are a source of pride for us at the Secretariat, and particularly the Secretary-General, as we have wholeheartedly committed to empowering and amplifying young people. These 20 regional finalists have sacrificed much and it is with great pleasure that we have an opportunity to reward them. I also want to thank the Duke of Edinburgh for agreeing to attend the Awards and the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust for their continued partnership.”

In continuation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT), an additional prize of £20,000 in funding will also be presented to one project at the award ceremony, to be delivered over two years. The winner will also be enrolled in QCT’s Youth Ventures Programme and given access to coaching and development opportunities.

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uganda: Nile Breweries Equip Barley Farmers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kenya, Mozambique Deepen Economic Ties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Angola, China Improve Bilateral Relations, Sign Agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenya: Plan To Deliver Digital Economy Nearing Fruition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Insect Farming Waste Recycling Innovations: Algerian Entrepreneurs Gain EU’s Support.

Thiziri Adir, a passionate entrepreneur from an agricultural background, is spearheading a trailblazing initiative to address the challenges of animal feed production in Algeria. With support from the European Union-funded SAFIR program, the young woman has embarked on a mission to cultivate insects as a viable alternative to the costly and unsustainable import of animal feed.

“I knew there had to be a better alternative that consumed less energy, water, and space, so I reached out to other farmers, and I realized they were facing the same problems. This is where my journey into insect farming began,” Thiziri recalls.

Wearing her engineer’s cap, the young began studying the industry, which had already gained recognition abroad. “France is known for its leadership in the field, but it is still a novel concept in Algeria,” Thiziri explains.

Notwithstanding, she was determined to make her mark in insect farming. “The added value of my project lies in the decentralized approach, where small-scale insect farms can be established on the lands of traditional farmers, creating a localized and sustainable supply chain.”

Thiziri’s vision for the widespread adoption of decentralized insect farming has been spearheaded by her desire to have a positive impact on both the local community and the global environment at large. “By building small units on farmers’ lands, we not only minimize the need for large-scale factories but also create short circuits in the supply chain,” she explains.

Thiziri’s sustainable and socially inclusive initiative caught the eye of the Algerian Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSE), a local incubator partnering with the EU-funded Safir project. Supported financially by the European Union, Safir is an ambitious program fostering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the socio-economic inclusion of young people in 9 countries across North Africa and the Middle East. Based on three pillars, the project aims to create an environment that (i) fosters the civil participation of over 1000 young project leaders; (ii) boosts the structuring and development of a regional network of supporters; and (iii) allows for the creation of spaces for dialogue between young people and the public authorities.
In addition to various skill-sharing programs aimed at incubators, civil society organizations, and universities in the region, Safir also partners with local incubators and civil society organizations, like ACSE, to support future talent and innovative initiatives like Thiziri’s.

“SAFIR, in partnership with ACSE, has been truly instrumental in shaping my project and expanding my network,” the young woman says with a hint of emotion, remembering that “they were the ones who truly believed in [my team] and our idea, which is so nice because, when you are at the beginning of such a new experience, it is important to have people on our side, not only supporting your project but also you as a person.”

She emphasized the importance of her mentor, Ghania Outekhdidjet, who is also in charge of the incubation cluster at ACSE. “Ghania and her team really push you to evaluate your idea while also helping you find solutions and alternatives to overcome constraints.”

Mouad Cheliram, a brilliant 27-year-old who benefited from the same program, agrees. “She is a real mentor, an exceptional guide who offers you unwavering support. You can text her in the middle of the night, regardless of the hour, she will always help you,” he adds, praising her deep understanding of financial technologies and strategic decision-making.

Both Thiziri and Mouad credit the EU-funded program for the continued success of their entrepreneurial journey as these initiatives have not only offered them financial support but also invaluable mentorship, expert advice, and access to extensive networks.

“Through these programs, we were able to test our prototype until we came up with the final product. We went through literally all of the design thinking process steps but not only,” Mouad explains, stressing the importance of the social impact skills they practiced at the incubator.

The highly eloquent young man clearly gained a lot from his time in the incubator, as he gets ready to go deliver training on STEM and entrepreneurship in Constantine in two hours. “With these new skills, I gained the confidence to deliver pitches and even started giving workshops to other youth.”

In those classes, he tries to raise awareness of the wealth of EU-funded programs and opportunities available for young people, notably by sharing his personal “sustainability journey” as he likes to call it.

In the picturesque rural city of Skigda, located in the eastern region of Algeria, this passionate environmentalist recently established EcoChar, a groundbreaking start-up that transforms organic waste into clean energy fuels and sustainable products. “It all started with my university thesis project on the valorization of coffee grounds and organic waste, which laid the foundation for my future work,” Mouad remembers, listing some key life-changing moments which made him realize he wanted to “make a life-lasting change” through his work.

Teaming up with fellow students Rahimi Moussa, Morareb Nourelhouda Aisha, and Balaska Tinhinane whom he met through the Hult Prize competition, he developed an innovative recycling process using coffee grounds waste and olive biomass waste to produce different eco-friendly products. Charcoal briquettes, heating logs, and fibers for textiles and paper are some of the green alternatives that EcoChar is now selling.

“Our idea really took a turn with the support of ACSE, as they helped us transition from manual production to automated processes,” the young man recounts. Forward-looking, Mouad insists on the importance of having a gender-balanced and innovative cohesive team to succeed. “Each of us has his/her own field of expertise, like polymer engineering, mechanical engineering, or environmental engineering, and we constantly exchange with other innovators.”

With passion, he asserts: “There is something I strongly believe in: it is the power of networking and building a community. Throughout my journey with ACSE, I have maintained close connections with individuals like Thiziri, because we are crucial to each other’s entrepreneurial growth. We regularly exchange milestones and collaborate through WhatsApp, in order to find solutions together for the challenges we face.”

Looking ahead, both Thziri and Mouad have ambitious plans to revolutionize Algeria’s relationship to sustainability. Both aim to expand their innovative solutions across the country and beyond, seeking to challenge traditional practices and drive positive change in their communities. With their innovative ideas and determination, the two young leaders are poised to contribute to a greener future, where decentralized insect farming for sustainable animal feed and clean energy and products made from organic waste is no longer a student’s dream but a daily reality.

DR Congo, UAE Sign Mining Deal.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) just signed a mining contract with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a joint venture which will involve the exploitation of the 3Ts minerals (Tantalum or Coltan, Tungsten, and Tin) in Kivu, the eastern parts of the country.

President Félix Tshisekedi was in attendance during the signing ceremony between state-owned firm Société aurifère du Kivu et du Maniema (Sakima SA) and Primera Mining, an Emirati company, contributing almost $2 billion to the project on Monday.

The Congolese President had earlier received a delegation from the United Arab Emirates led by Sheilk Shakhboot Nahyan Al Nahyan, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates.

The partnership adds to already existing UAE mineral explorations in South Kivu province through the firm Primera Gold. 

“For me, it’s the love of the country and the Congolese people that comes first. Any project that comes along to transform the Congo will be welcome,” said Tshisekedi.

The Congolese president expressed the hope that this new partnership would be the start of a transformation for the Congolese people, particularly those in the east of the country who need to benefit from the natural resources of their region.

Tshisekedi says he wants to create more business opportunities in the Kivu region and the project from this partnership will avail a lot of opportunities, thereby reducing the crime rate in the region.

In June 2021, Rwanda and the DRC signed a cooperation partnership for gold mining.

At the time, President Félix Tshisekedi and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame stated that the aim was also “to deprive armed groups of income from gold mining in eastern Congo.”

Unfortunately, this partnership was later suspended in May 2022 between Sakima SA and the Rwandan company, Dither LTD, due to the resumption of the M23 war, which Kinshasa says is supported by Rwanda.

Zim GDP Grows By 6.5 Percent.

Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by a rate of 6,5% to reach ZWL225,9 billion in a space of just twelve months anchored on the impact of top-performing industrial sectors.

GDP growth rate otherwise known as the economic growth rate measures economic growth, as expressed by gross domestic product (GDP), from one period to another, adjusted for inflation or deflation.

It reveals changes in the value of all goods and services produced by an economy, the economic output of a country while accounting for price fluctuations.

Accordingly, the latest data from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) shows a significant increase in the growth rate over a year.

“The 2022 GDP at constant prices is estimated at ZWL225.9 billion, representing a growth rate of 6, 5% from the 2021 estimate of ZWL212,1 billion.

The annual average rate of change of the GDP at market prices based on constant local currency, for a given national economy, during a specified period.

RELATED: Zim GDP records 6,8% growth in a quarter but still below target says economic expert

The statistics agency says the top five contributors to the GDP growth during the period were: Accommodation and Food Services at 23,7%, Finance, and Insurance at 15,6%, Information and Communication at 14,1%, Mining and Quarrying at 10,5%, Transport and storage, 6.6% and Agriculture at 6.2%.

Gross capital formation for 2022 was estimated at ZWL1,815 trillion with the private sector injecting the most, accounting for 50,6%.

Government gross fixed capital formation was estimated at ZWL484,3 billion, contributing 22,7%.

“Final consumption expenditure was estimated at ZWL11,6 trillion with government final consumption accounting for 17,6% while private households expenditure was estimated at ZWL8.758 trillion, or 74.6% of the final consumption expenditure.

“Compensation of employees was estimated at ZWL5,16 trillion with Gross operating surplus estimated at ZWL3,696 trillion,” added Zimstat.

Mozambique Gets U.S.$500 Million in Aid From MCC.

The Board of Directors of the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) on 28 June approved a program of US$500 million of aid for Mozambique. The aid packages from the MCC are known as compacts, and this one is called the Mozambique Connectivity and Coastal Resilience Compact.

Cited in an MCC press release, the MCC executive director, Alice Albright, said that the Board’s approval of the compact reaffirms the commitment of the MCC “to tackle economic growth constraints through innovative solutions directly”.

“In Mozambique, we are implementing MCC’s most climate-forward compact- a combination of resilient transport infrastructure, green and blue economy opportunities, and policy and institutional reforms to enable more effective and long-term growth”, said Albright.

This is MCC’s second compact with Mozambique – the first ran from 2008 to 2013 and involved grants of US$506.9 million spent on water and sanitation, land tenure, transport, and agriculture.

“Through this program”, the release says, “the MCC seeks to improve transport connectivity in rural areas, incentivize commercial agriculture through policy and fiscal reforms, and improve coastal livelihoods through climate resilience initiatives”.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation is “an independent US government development agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth”.

Set up in 2004, MCC provides “time-limited grants that pair investments in infrastructure with policy and institutional reforms to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights”.

 

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.

Kenya’s Lawmakers Pass Biggest Budget in Country’s History

The Kenyan parliament has passed the budget estimates for the Financial Year 2023/24, the biggest in the country’s history amounting to Sh3.679 trillion (24billion euros). 

 

This estimate has been passed ahead of President William Ruto’s first budget reading since he won the presidency last year.

 

Sh2.1 trillion was allocated to the Executive, Sh40 billion to the Parliament, and Sh22.9 billion to the Judiciary and Judicial Service Commission. 

 

To finance the budget, taxes have been proposed for imported goods such as fish, beauty products, and gambling. 

 

Additionally, a payroll levy set at 1.5%, initially 3% has been introduced to finance a low-cost housing program. 

 

The draft budget for the upcoming year has reinvigorated the public’s criticism of President William Ruto, as it does not address the climbing cost of living they have experienced in recent months. Elected in August 2022 as the herald of the “resourceful” little people, The President is being condemned for his inability to mitigate or prevent the steep price increases seen in Kenya, especially after the elimination of fuel and maize flour subsidies.

 

The new budget has been met with criticism from the opposition coalition Azimio over rising cost of living and Kenya’s public debt amounting to $65 billion or 67% of GDP. 

 

The discussion of the budget was additionally marred by opposition MPs leaving the room in protest of the implementation of the budget and to express their disagreement with the text and timetable.

 

Kenya’s Lawmakers Pass Biggest Budget in Country’s History

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.

Ethiopia, Sri Lanka Strengthen Bilateral Relations and Multilateral Cooperation.

Ambassador Kumarasiri conveyed to President Zewde the sincere greetings of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, under whose directives the Government of Sri Lanka is determined to make stronger bilateral relations with all African countries.

Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia K.K. Theshantha Kumarasiri presented his credentials to the President of Ethiopia, Her Excellency Sahle-Work Zewde on 27 April 2023 at the Presidential Palace in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Following the presentation of credentials, Ambassador Kumarasiri was received in the audience by President Zewde, during which Ambassador Kumarasiri conveyed to President Zewde the sincere greetings of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, under whose directives the Government of Sri Lanka is determined to make stronger bilateral relations with all African countries including Ethiopia in line with the new foreign policy initiative introduced by President Wickremesinghe under the theme of “Look Africa.”

During the discussion, President Zewde gave an assurance that the Government of Ethiopia stands ready to work with the Government of Sri Lanka in strengthening bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation for the mutual benefit of Sri Lanka and Ethiopia.

Further, the discussion was centered on developing partnerships for trade and investment between Ethiopia and Sri Lanka with bilateral linkages at the targeted priority sectors such as apparel manufacturing, tourism, hospitality, agriculture, ICT, innovation & knowledge creation, logistics, and construction. The discussion envisaged a wider Africa-centric partnership, particularly on blue economic initiatives to meet common challenges of climate change, sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, energy, and security within the solidarity of the South-South cooperation. The conversation also underscored the significance of formulating ongoing bilateral interactions between Sri Lanka and Ethiopia in view of preparing modalities for institutional and structural instruments for enhancing bilateral interactions between Sri Lanka and Ethiopia including establishing partnerships with business Chambers of the two countries for mutual benefits.

While recognizing Sri Lanka’s continuous partnerships with Ethiopia, particularly in the manufacturing sector which has successfully contributed to creating employment opportunities for a large number of Ethiopian citizens, President Zewde assured that the pertinent authorities in Ethiopia will continue to provide more and more investment opportunities and business partnerships between Ethiopia and Sri Lanka.

At the end of the cordial discussion, Ambassador Kumarasiri appreciated the support and cooperation the Government of Ethiopia extended to the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Addis Ababa for its successful deliberations in the host country, Ethiopia. Further, Ambassador Kumarasiri as the new Head of Mission to Ethiopia expressed his commitment to broaden the existing bilateral interactions between Sri Lanka and Ethiopia under his dual position as the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia and also the Permanent Representative to the African Union which he recognized as complimentary. President Zewde in return congratulated Ambassador Kumarasiri for a successful tenure in Ethiopia.

Ambassador Kumarasiri is a member of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service with over 20 years of career experience while serving previously in France, South Korea, and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Kelaniya, and he has a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratization from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Ghana: Cyber Security Authority Collaborate to Improve CyberSecurity in Banking.

The Bank of Ghana and the Cyber Security Authority are collaborating to improve the cybersecurity posture in the banking sector.

In particular, the two institutions are discussing various ways to approach the implementation of the Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) for the sector. The detailed areas of collaboration are contained in the joint statement issued by BoG and CSA on June 24, 2022, nearly a year ago.

According to the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison, the project will help provide real-time visibility into cyber threats and attacks targeting the banking sector.

Speaking at the official commissioning of the Financial Industry Command Security Operations Center (FICSOC) in Accra, Dr. Addison said the FICSOC project is a critical component of the systems and we have to deal with cyber security challenges.

In October 2018, the Bank of Ghana issued the Cyber and Information Security Directive (CISD) for banks and other Bank of Ghana-regulated financial institutions with the expectation that all regulated financial institutions would implement the required Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) controls to ensure the delivery of a safer digital financial Industry.

The implementation of the directive was phased over 36 months, and through effective monitoring and supervision among regulated banks.

“As these institutions worked towards full implementation of the directive, it became evident that the Bank of Ghana had to establish an industry Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system to enable those institutions implementing SIEMs to send logs/alerts, aggregate information and reports. To achieve this, the Bank initiated the SIEM project which we call the Financial Industry Command Security 2 Operations Centre (FICSOC) Project”, the Governor emphasized.

He added that the FICSOC Project is now completed and operational with reports/alerts in the form of threat intelligence provided to the banks to improve their incident response mechanisms.

He concluded that digital technology can be a potent tool for financial inclusiveness, and therefore there is a need to protect the financial system from cyber threats.

Uganda: Letshego Nominated for Afawa Bank of the Year Award in Egypt.

Letshego Uganda has been nominated by the African Guarantee Fund for the AFAWA Bank of the Year Award at the African Banker Awards set for Sharm-El-Sheikh Egypt on 24th May 2023.

The African Banker Awards is a landmark annual event for African Banking that celebrates excellence and best practices in African banking and recognizes the personalities and banks that puts Africa’s rapidly transforming financial sector in motion. 

It celebrates the achievements of those who are driving growth, and development, and creating new economic opportunities for citizens and communities all over the continent and inspires new generations of bankers who are shaping Africa’s future.

Women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion have been recognized as key to achieving the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. This year’s Awards gala is poised to accentuate the theme of gender equity in the industry. In partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and African Guarantee Fund, a fresh accolade has been instituted to acknowledge and encourage initiatives aimed at propelling financial inclusivity for “Women across the African continent”. The AfDB’s AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) is a Pan-African initiative to bridge the $ 42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa.

Letshego Uganda CEO Giles Aijukwe said, “At Letshego, we spotlight financial literacy because we have realized the power that financial education provides; basic skills related to earning, spending, budgeting, borrowing, saving, and seizing growth opportunities. Today, nearly a billion women around the world are unserved or underserved by the formal financial sector and unable to reach their full economic potential. If you brought all these women together, they would make up the third-largest country in the world.”

Given the might of financial institutions, be it, mainstream banks or MFIs (Microfinance Institutions) – they’re a powerful instrument for women’s empowerment. Women’s ability to save, borrow and control their own money and assets- reduces poverty and promotes inclusive growth. Unequal gender roles have implications for the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity, and freedom, which in turn influence financial inclusion – or lack thereof.  

“Financial inclusion requires that low-income people have a convenient way to send money and make payments. We have prioritized this in Uganda with our Group Lending products (women as primary beneficiaries) alongside digital channels usage of USSD (*287#) and our Letshego Digital Mall (Omni-functional App or by following this linkwww.letsgo.letshego.com) that eases access to financial services

Morocco, Africa Finance Corporation Partner to advance Critical Financing for Local Institutions

Africa Finance Corporation, the continent’s leading infrastructure solutions provider, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Morocco’s Ministry of Economy and Finance to provide project development, structuring, and financing solutions for projects in key strategic sectors of renewable energy, transport, natural resources, heavy industries, and telecommunications.

The MOU strengthens the partnership after Morocco officially became a member of the AFC in 2021. AFC will provide innovative financing and pragmatic solutions to enhance the infrastructure and industrial base in Morocco, necessary to facilitate domestic market competitiveness and export capacity of Moroccan businesses.

Over the past decade, Morocco has adopted a proactive policy towards sub-Saharan Africa opportunities and has re-joined the African Union to position itself as a prime participant and leader in Africa’s economic development. This partnership with AFC is yet another critical step in realizing that vision of making Africa a vibrant economic region where intra-Africa trade and job creation become synonymous with political stability and economic prosperity.

H.E Nadia Fettah, Moroccan Minister of Economy and Finance, said: “This marks a major step in the cooperation between Morocco and the AFC and confirms the continuous commitment of the Kingdom of Morocco to Africa’s development, in line with the vision of His Majesty the King, in promoting South-South cooperation.”

AFC is already in high-level discussions with several government entities in Morocco, including the Ministry of Transportation & Logistics, the National Railway Operator, the Airport Authority, and the Ministry of Energy Transition & Sustainable Development. Among pipeline projects under discussion is the revamp and upgrade of significant railway infrastructure to improve passenger and cargo mobility between rural towns and the capital city and ease road congestion, as well as cooperation under Morocco’s renewable strategy.

Samaila Zubairu, President and CEO of AFC, said: “This collaboration underscores our commitment to advance the economic growth and industrialization of Africa alongside the Kingdom of Morocco’s own domestic development and regional growth priorities. We look forward to partnering with key public and private sector stakeholders to invest in sustainable infrastructure projects that drive rapid progress in manufacturing, import substitution, and beneficiation of Africa’s abundant natural resources.”

AFC’s investment footprint spans 36 countries across Africa, investing US$11.5 billion in projects that blend positive social and environmental impact with superior risk-adjusted returns. The Corporation’s A3 investment-grade rating from Moody’s enables beneficial access to global capital markets. It underscores the confidence of Africa’s decision-makers in the AFC’s role as a critical institution for sustainable economic development. AFC recently recorded an outstanding financial performance in 2022 with total assets growing 23% to US$10.5 billion, a 36% increase in profit to US$285.9 million, and member countries reaching 40 in total.

 

Zimbabwe: Distressed Companies Rescued, Creates Job Opportunities.

  • The Second Republic has resuscitated 13 previously distressed companies countrywide.
  • This will aid in the provision of jobs for citizens.

 

Testifying its commitment to tangible deliverables aimed at transforming the livelihoods of the people, the Second Republic, under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa, has resuscitated 13 previously distressed companies countrywide by expending millions of United States dollars in support, thus unlocking value and providing thousands of jobs.

 

This has been in addition to strides made towards re-engagement, democracy, conflict resolution, agricultural productivity, and provision of enabling infrastructure, among other achievements aimed at fostering socio-economic development and peaceful co-existence to eradicate poverty as enshrined in National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1) and espoused in Vision 2030.  

 

A list recently compiled by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary Dr. Mavis Sibanda indicates that 13 companies, drawn from across different sectors, have been given new leases of life by the Government in the last three years, culminating in increased production.

 

Of the 13 companies rescued, three are in Manicaland Province, two are in Harare, two are in Bulawayo, and two are in the Midlands Province; while a company was resuscitated in each of the provinces of Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, and Masvingo.

 

To the people of Mashonaland West, the name David Whitehead Textiles means more than a company — it is a legacy and lifeline. Therefore, its resuscitation through the Government’s support provided more than a breath of fresh air. The re-launching of the textiles firm is anchored on a machine retooling program valued at US$20 million, targeting to replace about 90 percent of machinery rendered obsolete.

 

At least 40 percent of the spinning and weaving machinery has so far been received, while more is in transit. Massive civil works are ongoing at the factory in preparation for the installation of the new equipment. The company will provide a crucial opportunity for the country to create jobs and cut imports of textile-related products.

 

In Mashonaland Central Province, G & W Minerals was given another chance at life. Partially owned by the Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ), the company mines dolomite, which it processes into quicklime, chicken grit, and calcitic lime.

 

Quicklime or hydrated lime is used for water treatment, while calcitic lime is used as stock feed. Plans are afoot for the setting up of a second limestone milling plant for both agriculture lime and high mesh worth US$3 million. A supplier for the plant has already been identified. It is envisaged that the plant will produce 300 000 tonnes of agriculture lime and high mesh per annum.

 

 Deven Engineering and Chemplex Corporation in Harare have also been revived through the Government’s intervention.

 

The engineering company is involved in the assembly of semi-knocked-down trucks and bus kits, as well as the manufacturing of bus and truck bodies.

 

Capacity utilization has been Deven Engineering’s headache as it has plummeted to five percent owing to the absence of an off-take agreement from the Government. The timely commitment by the Second Republic has seen the firm undertaking an Amalgamated Bus Industry (IBI) semi-knockdown kit assembly project, which is now at 98 percent completion.

 

 Chemplex Corporation is a well-established group of strategic importance to the Zimbabwean economy. It is a key supplier to agriculture, water treatment, mining, and other sectors.

 

As the menacing theileriosis, commonly known as January disease, wreaked havoc across the country, breaking the hearts of farmers, the Government partnered with Chemplex Animal Health in increasing the production of beta tick grease. As a result, the firm managed to produce 69 tonnes of grease and 70 tonnes of tick buster and deltaic.

 

Through research and development, they also developed a dipping chemical, contratik, for the local market, and export throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In November 2021, the IDCZ produced the first Zimbabwean-made cotton pesticide, mitebuster.

 

In Manicaland Province, Quest Motors, Dorowa Minerals, and Cicada Katiyo Estates have rebounded.

 

Quest Motors assembles different types of vehicles, ranging from passenger to light and heavy commercial vehicles. The company produces buses, trucks, luxury cars, and tractors, as well as single and double-cab vehicles. Among the brands’ Quest Motors assembles are Foton, Zhong Tong, Yutong, and Chery. The company is operating below five percent of its optimum capacity and employs 102. It has managed to produce three trucks in March this year.

 

 Manicaland Dorowa Minerals operates a mine for phosphate ore reserves and magnetite, which is predominantly exported to Mozambique. The company is upgrading its phosphate plant and awaits the other equipment from South Africa and financial resources from the Treasury. Overall progress is around 20 percent.

 

The avocado and macadamia producer, Cicada Katiyo Estates, has invested US$10 million to increase production. At least 220 hectares are already under macadamia plants, while 130ha are under avocados. This has created at least 300 jobs with the potential to double the figure shortly.

In Mashonaland East, Hunyani is at the moment operating an egg tray-making plant in Marondera, which is producing 30 000 trays per 8-hour shift, with production determined by demand. The company uses paper waste material from its paper packaging division in Harare for feedstock. Hence, the project is a part of the waste management efforts. Twenty-four people are employed and work on two production shifts.

 

 Simbi, in Masvingo Province, produces 3 000 tonnes of sponge ore at 80 percent capacity, with a staff complement of 116. Operations at the firm are being expanded in phases. Total investment for Phase 1 is about US$21,5 million, while US$122 million is required for Phase 2.

 

The Midlands Province had ZimChem Refineries and Victoria Foods revived.

 

ZimChem Refineries produces industrial chemicals such as tar, creosote, hand sanitizers, degreaser, liquid soap, paint, thinners, and contact glue. With massive construction and refurbishing of roads being undertaken in the country, local production of tar will go a long way in import substitution. Production of tar and creosote has increased significantly owing to the completion of the refurbishment of the company’s boiler. Capacity utilization is anticipated to increase to 60 percent.

 

Also, the firm has partnered with the Midlands State University (MSU) in the development of home-grown solutions in the maintenance and rehabilitation of roads, as embraced in the heritage-based Education 5.0, by producing low-cost tar, thereby reducing the import bill by a projected 50 percent.

 

Victoria Foods, a subsidiary of CFI Holdings Limited, was placed under provisional judicial management in 2016. It resumed operations in 2021 and has been operating satisfactorily. The company continues to invest in its milling operations to underpin its long-term competitiveness.

 

In Bulawayo, Zambezi Tanners and Ref Air were brought back to life through the Government’s support. As part of its expansion vision, the company launched a separate division specializing in bovine finishing tannery. With its sights on the global leather market, particularly Asia, the company is also seeking to penetrate the markets on the continent through opportunities availed by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

 

At 80 percent utilization, the crocodile products side processes between 12 000 and 15 000 skins per year, while in the elephant category, around 40 000 square feet a year are processed.

 

Ref-Air, on the other hand, specializes in all large and small-scale refrigeration and air-conditioning supplies, installation, service, and repair. The manufacturing facility specializes in the design, manufacture, and installation of foam-injected polyurethane panels.

 

The company recently brought in new equipment and machinery worth US$400 000, which comprises two automated de-coiler machines, one spiller, and a blender.

 

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr. Nick Mangwana, yesterday said the resuscitation of the once-troubled companies nationwide affirms that the people-centered Second Republic “is all about delivery”.  

 

 “Under the astute and servant leadership of President Mnangagwa, the Government has been seized with economic prosperity anchored on the transformative development agenda, the NDS 1,” he said.

 

Mr Mangwana highlighted that the “coming back to life”, of the companies signifies more production and heightened contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  

 

“It also means more employment opportunities, and this is precisely what a Government with the interests of its people does round the clock. Zimbabweans should know that they are in safe hands under the leadership of President Mnangagwa,” he added.

 

 The revival of the firms, most of which are household names with indelible footprints on the country’s socio-economic terrain, demonstrates President Mnangagwa’s unflinching vow to the greater good that takes all citizens aboard as 2030—the year of promise—beckons.

 

The trajectory towards the attainment of an empowered upper-middle income economy by 2030 revolves around providing employment opportunities and broadening the national cake to meet the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people.  

 

This will in turn massively contribute to overall economic growth in line with NDS 1—a five-year economic blueprint that runs from 2021-2025—launched by President Mnangagwa in November 2020.

 

A successor to the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), the NDS 1, is key to the achievement of Vision 2030 and seeks to streamline gender, youth, women, and other vulnerable groups, hence, creating equal opportunities for all citizens in an economically stable environment.

 

Since bread and butter issues are integral in the realization of national goals, there is no better way of steering the collective wheel than revitalizing troubled, but potentially rich companies.

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.

 

 

Jebet, Naibet win as African, world athletes partake in maiden Abuja International Marathon.

  • Again, Kenya’s Emmanuel Naibet has won a marathon in Nigeria. His first was in Lagos, and the Abuja International Marathon is his second.
  • Ruth Jebet, a Bahrain runner of Kenyan ancestry, defied previous career challenges to win her first international full marathon.
  • Other elite runners and fun seekers from other African cities and the rest of the world converged to take part in the inaugural and historic Abuja International Marathon; they left with prizes and happiness.

On the 29th of April 2023, Kenya’s Emmanuel Naibet and Bahrain runner Ruth Jebet emerged inaugural winners of the men’s and women’s respective categories of the first international full marathon in the FCT, the historic Abuja International Marathon, backed by the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, with routes calculated and calibrated by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, AIMS, and approved by World Athletics, with the theme ‘Celebrating the Best of FCT’.

 

Ruth Jebet, winner of the women’s full marathon. Source: www.eurosport.com

 

According to the Race Director, Olukayode Thomas, “About 50 foreign elite runners and 120 local elites registered to participate in the race’’. They were joined by thousands of Nigerian runners that registered to participate in the three categories. The race, a first of its kind in Abuja, was earlier slated for the 17th of December 2022 but was later rescheduled to hold on the 29th of April 2023, with the weather showing kindness to the notable event.  The lovely city of Abuja typically experiences torrential rainfall in April but on the 29th, the city offered the ideal weather making it more convenient for Kenya’s Naibet as well as Jebet, Kenyan-born long-distance runner and steeplechase specialist who competes internationally for the Asian country Bahrain, to win the two categories respectively.

 

Emmanuel Naibet, winner of the men’s full marathon. Source: www.naijanews.com.

 

Naibet won with a time of 2:13:45, a winning time considered the best ever documented in any first edition of Marathon races in Nigeria. This is his second marathon win in Nigeria having also won the 2021 edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. “It was a great race for me though a bit challenging with some hilly parts on the routes, but overall, I am happy to win this race and add it to my achievements,” the animated titleholder said in a chat with journalists. Benard Sang finished in second position with a time of 2:13:49 while Ezekiel Koech secured his third place to seal up the win for Kenyans in the men’s category with a time of 2:13:51.

 

Athletes from around the world gather in Abuja for the maiden Abuja International Marathon. Photo by Light Oriye. Source: www.premiumtimes.ng

 

In the women’s category, though her first attempt at the full marathon after dominating in other long-distance races, Ruth Jebet from Bahrain dwarfed other runners to grab the number one spot with a time of 2.36.08, Mercy Kwambai from Kenya finished second with a time of 2:38:17, while Ethiopia’s Dida Negasa held on to the third place with a time of 2:40: 16. An excited Jebet says, “I can never forget the Abuja International Marathon, it is my first full marathon and I won it, I hope to be back next year to defend my title”.

 

Three different races took place in Abuja. Apart from the elite runners who took part in the full marathon that spanned about 42.195 kilometres, students from across the Abuja metropolis as well as fun contenders also keenly competed for prizes in the 5-kilometre and 10-kilometre races. Thomas, the race director, pointed out that one of the big ideas behind the racing event is the establishment of an elite athletes’ development program to groom exceptional local athletes. “What makes the race unique is that it is the first race that will give local athletes recognition not just in terms of appearance fee or bonuses, but we are trying to set up elite athletes development program because we believe that Nigerians have what it takes to do what the Kenyans and Ethiopians are doing,” he said. All finishers of the Abuja International Marathon got medals and certificates signed by the FCT Minister of State.

 

Cross section of runners at the Abuja International Marathon. Source: www.gazettengr.com

 

Also, the Managing Director of Abuja International Marathon, Mrs.  Zsuzsanna Ogunmiloyo mentioned the available incentives for young participants. She said “We also want to encourage the culture of running because the youths have to be encouraged. Sports bring the community together. It is something we want embedded in the youths to know that hard work and determination count.”

 

Activities that led to the Saturday Marathon began on Friday with an expo at The Pavillion, beside the International Conference Centre, opposite Radio House, Abuja. According to Race Director, Olukayode Thomas, the Marathon Expo, with the theme ‘Showcasing the best of FCT,’ prepped the participants for the event. There was refreshment, entertainment from the FCT Arts and Culture Department, and prizes for participants. Visitors were also treated to a city-wide tour. “For those interested in FCT landmarks and tourist attraction centres, officials of the FCT Tourism Department will be on ground to take them around the FCT with tour guides that will answer their questions.”

 

Route Calibration by Norrie Williamson of the World Athletics/AIMS A Grade South Africa, together with his team. Source: www.abujainternationalmarathon.com

 

Thomas highlighted the gains of the Abuja Marathon pointing out that they outweigh the few road closures and other inconveniences that came with the event. He said, just before the event, that: “We need to start telling our stories with activities like Abuja International Marathon. Abuja is a beautiful city, no doubt, but how many times have we showcased the city to the world? This is probably the first time that Abuja will be beamed to the world for four hours. This race will show the best part of Abuja and its landmarks to the world for hours so let us all work with the FCTA to make the epoch event a huge success.’’

 

A week-long Marathon Expo preceded the race with numerous lead-up activities, including the unveiling of the Marathon Logo, the High School that won in the production of the theme song for the Abuja International Marathon, and the presentation of race ambassadors. The event attracted stakeholders in the industry including fun runners, FCTA officials, sponsors, and elite runners abroad and at home. Abuja International Marathon seeks to be the first race in the world to win the prestigious World Athletics Label after its first edition. The majority of elite runners officially invited for the race are Gold Label Runners.

 

Participants at the maiden Abuja International Marathon. Source: www.gazettengr.com

 

Abuja, a stunning city with an excellent network of roads, while playing host to the international marathon, did a good job showcasing her beauty to the world. Another big idea behind the Abuja International Marathon (AIM) is to make the FCT more beautiful and tourist-friendly, even as it presents new and thrilling experiences to both fun and elite runners, in and outside Nigeria.  Abuja International Marathon (AIM) aims to become a qualifier for the Olympics Games, World Athletics Championships, and the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago Tokyo and New York City), within three years. The National Hospital Abuja and other prominent hospitals partnered as reference centers for the race. African News media have kept up with updates before, during, and after the event. It would seem like Kenyans are built for races seeing that they sweep key prizes anywhere races are organized in the continent, and indeed around the word. What do you think? Share with us in the comment section.

 

 

Congo Inaugurates Natural Gas Liquefaction Project.

  • Eni and the Republic of the Congo’s government have inaugurated a $5 billion natural gas liquefaction project.
  • It consists of two floating natural gas liquefaction plants.
  • This project could make Congo an exporter. 

Eni and the Republic of the Congo’s government have inaugurated a $5 billion natural gas liquefaction project.

An Italian company Eni and the Republic of the Congo’s government have inaugurated a $5 billion natural gas liquefaction project to exploit the huge gas resources of the Marine XII, off the coast of Congo. 

The Congo LNG project is considered the first of its kind in the country.  It is expected to have an overall liquefied natural gas production capacity of three million tonnes per year from 2025. This project forms part of Eni’s core supply diversification initiatives and is anticipated to meet the country’s power generation needs while supplying new gas volumes to international markets focusing on Europe. 

It consists of two floating natural gas liquefaction plants.

This project consists of two floating natural gas liquefaction plants at the producing Nenè and Litchendjili fields, and at the fields that are due to be developed. Under conversion, the first floating natural gas plant has a capacity expectation of 0.6mtpa and is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023. The second floating natural gas plant, still in the construction phase at the moment will have 2.4mtpa of capacity and is expected to start production in 2025.

This project could make Congo an exporter. 

“Today we celebrate the launch of one of Eni’s main projects, made possible by the collaboration with the Republic of the Congo and destined to significantly contribute to Italy and Europe’s energy security and industrial competitiveness.” the CEO of Eni, Claudio Descalzi said. 

Minister Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua , Congo Hydrocarbons minister mentioned that project is expected to make Congo an LNG exporter for the first time. He also said,  “This should place the Congo among the largest oil and gas producers in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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.

AMVCA 2023: RMD, Brotherhood, others eye best movie, actor as full nominees list emerges.

Source: https://www.dstv.com/africamagic/en-ng/home
  • The full list of nominees for the 9th edition of the AMVCA has since been generating a lot of reactions from lovers of entertainment and the screen.
  • The organizers of the event, the contenders, and the voters or viewers are all hyped up for the big day.
  • The voting categories are open to the public on AMVCA (dstv.com).

 

Stars headlining nominations for the highly awaited 9th Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, AMVCA, 2023 include Chidi Mokeme, Tobi Bakare, Bimbo Ademoye, and others. MultiChoice, the organizers of the awards, on the evening of Sunday, April 16, 2023, released a comprehensive list detailing the various categories and the nominees ahead of the significant event, and different African news platforms have since been stirred.

 

Chidi Mokeme in Shanty Town. Source: www.pulse.ng

 

AfriSQuare gathered that digital content creators in Nollywood, and in Africa generally, have also earned recognition; this shows an expansion in the annual event’s scope, which traditionally recognizes outstanding performances in film, television, and entertainment.  The nominees are spread across more than 30 award categories, some of the categories, about ten of them, are open to the public; voters from the general public can choose their preferred nominees, while some other categories are to be decided by a panel of judges set up by the organizers. The event itself is scheduled to hold from the 18th to the 20th of May 2023, in Lagos State, Nigeria, and will be broadcast live on Africa Magic channels.

Source: AMVCA (dstv.com)

 

The AMVCA has grown into a premium event that acknowledges outstanding accomplishments in African television and film. This year, numerous talented actors and actresses across Africa, all contending for awards in different categories, will feature. The list of nominees contains talented film makers as well as prominent actors and actresses such as Nkem Owoh, Mercy Johnson, Chinedu Ikedieze, Chidi Mokeme, Richard Mofe Damijo, and several others. A number of movies and television series have also been nominated for awards, including ‘Brotherhood’ directed by Jade Osiberu, ‘Ile Owo’ directed by Kayode Kasum, among others.

 

According to the organizers, talented Big Brother Naija alumnus, Bisola Aiyeola and Ghanaian actor, Adjetey Anang, will be the main hosts for this year’s award show. There are several ways to vote for nominees of different categories. Members of the public are encouraged to cast their votes for their favorites as this could make them big winners of any of the public voting categories on awards night. To vote, one must register first before they can get behind their favorite nominees for the ninth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards.

Adjetey Anang and Bisola Aiyeola, the event’s hosts. Source: AMVCA (dstv.com)  

 

To see the full list of nominees, as well as to register and vote for your favorites, the AMVCA site AMVCA (dstv.com) will come in handy. Feel free to visit. Also, share with us, here in the comment section under this post, who you think should win what awards. Is anyone on the nominees list who should not be there? Is there someone who should have been on the list? What do you think of the nominees and the categories? What do you think about the inclusion of online content makers in the mix? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section, even as you share the post with your friends.