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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Germany, Algeria Strengthen Energy Partnership.

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

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

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

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

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

ALGERIAN HYDROGEN AMBITIONS

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

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

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

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

 

Morocco, African Development Bank Sign Financing Agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seychelles Hosts Inaugural IFBB Event.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She said she was hoping to get more local participants.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Algerian-Sahrawi Trade Union Solidarity Week.

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Morocco, UAE Sign MoU to Enhance Cybersecurity Cooperation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tanzania to Benefit from Power Interconnection Project.

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

The Kenya and Tanzania Power Interconnection Project

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

Benefits for Tanzania

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

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

Regional Cooperation and Economic Integration

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

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

World Travels Award 2023: Seychelles Clinches an Award.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mozambique to Sign More Contracts for Offshore Hydrocarbon Exploration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Inclusive Tourism in South Africa; Tourism Minister Signs MoU.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Senegalese Pair Win Caine Prize.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Bright Spots; Pockets of Resilience Identified by World Bank.

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

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

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

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

 

Anuga 2023 Brings Tunisian Agri-Food Industry to Spotlight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GIS Launches 7-Year Strategic Plan.

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

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

Development of the plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human rights

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Djibouti Inaugurates First-ever Green Energy.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

GEB 2023: Zim Exhibit Pleases Botswana President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mental Health: Kite Flying Event at Heideveld Sports Field.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Kenya: PlantwisePlus Program to Support Smallholder Farmers.

The CABI-led PlantwisePlus program has been supporting smallholder farmers in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, with training on better banana agronomy which can help them increase their livelihoods, crop yields, and food security.

PlantwisePlus works in partnership to help support low and lower-middle-income countries to predict, prepare themselves for, and prevent plant health threats in a changing climate. Through the PlantwisePlus Toolkit, for example, a range of digital products, help farmers grow crops more sustainably.

This includes the CABI BioProtection Portal– a free tool to enhance the awareness and uptake of biocontrol and biopesticide products by growers and advisors – and the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and the Plantwise Factsheet Library app.

Tackling a range of crop pests and diseases

Scientists from CABI’s regional center for Africa in Nairobi helped deliver a four-day training for smallholder farmers to help them tackle a range of crop pests and diseases of bananas including nematodes, moles, thrips, banana weevils, cigar end rot, and Panama disease.

Over 50 million people in East Africa depend on highland bananas for their food and/or income. Annually, the crop’s production is worth around $4.3 billion, However, pests and diseases, nutrient deficiencies and drought stress continue to affect the average productivity of bananas.

The sessions, which were held together with the Micro Enterprise Support Program Trust  (MESPT) which are running a banana project under the Danish partnership program Danida Market Development Partnerships (DMDP), focused on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for banana but also tomato and general pest management.

In this program, MESPT uses Business Service Providers (BSPs) who oversee farmers’ activities. The BSPs are clustered into estates with a defined number of farmers under them. The main role of the BSPs is to train and follow up farmers to ensure the adoption of different technologies and train farmers in planting and general agronomic practices.

The organisation is also working with 12 lead farmers who have established demonstration farms which are used to train other farmers on different technologies and how these can help keep pests and diseases at bay.

Safe use of pesticides and KS1758 standard  

The event – held in Taveta town – was attended by 44 Business Service Providers, lead farmers, and agronomists from MESPT. The trainees also gained valuable insights into the safe use of pesticides and how to meet the KS1758 standard-Horticulture Code of Practice focusing on fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, tomato is one of the most important vegetables grown in Kenya and plays a critical role in income generation and creation of employment for both rural and urban populations, in addition to meeting food nutritional requirements.

However, since it was first reported in Kenya in 2014, the tomato leafminer (Phthorimaea absoluta) has become a serious threat to the sustainable production of tomatoes in Kenya with nearly 98% of tomato farmers affected. 

It has become invasive in introduced ranges having escaped the biotic constraints, that keep their populations in check in their regions of origin. Infestation by this pest can cause yield losses of up to 100%.

On the first day of the training, Peter Karanja, Assistant Training Officer – PlantwisePlus, delivered a session on banana and tomato pest management for the BSPs and lead farmers. This included the demonstration of bio traps – such as the TutaSan pheromone trap and the Delta trap – as well as insect sticky cards used as part of an IPM strategy.

Mr Karanja also spoke about the ‘Ukulima True’ campaign which has been launched – in collaboration with the CBCC (Centre For Behaviour Change and Communication) and the Department of Agriculture, Nakuru County, to help reduce the risks to farmers, consumers, and the environment from chemical pesticides.

Samples of biopesticide products were also on display. The trainees were shown how to navigate through the CABI BioProtection Portal and the Pest Control Products Board (PCBP) website to find biopesticides available and registered for use in Kenya.

Day two of the training saw Mr Stanley Mruu Nganga, Regional Manager, PCPB, Coast Region, talk about the safe use of plant protection products. This included looking at pesticides and why they are regulated by the government as well as the safe purchase, transport, and storage of pesticides.

He also emphasized the importance of reading the pesticide label, the use of personal protective equipment during mixing and spraying as well as the correct dosage. These are key topics in the KS 1758-Horticultural Code of practice.

Importance of soil and substrate management

To close the training on days three and four, Mr Patrice Ngenga, a KS 1758 trainer from the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya(FPEAK), spoke about the KS 1758:2016-Horticulture code of practice. The KS1758 is a Kenyan horticultural code of practice that is anchored on 4 pillars Food safety, Environmental sustainability, Worker Health and safety, and Plant Health. This code applies to the procurement of inputs, production, and placement of horticultural produce in the market. The topics covered by Mr. Patrice included the importance of soil and substrate management, cultivation, soil erosion, soil fumigation, and site selection.

He also emphasized aspects of irrigation and water management, fertilizer usage, and sanitation for propagation materials.

The BSPs are expected to pass the valuable training to the farmers they are serving. CABI in collaboration with MESPT hopes to further capacity build the BSPs and lead farmers to help bridge the extension gap. It is hoped that moving forward, a good number of BSPs and lead farmers could be trained as plant doctors. These staff, once trained, will be expected to operate PlantwisePlus plant clinics where smallholder farmers can take samples of their plant health issues for diagnosis and advice on treatment.

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.

Katanga Alumni Holds Annual Psychiatric Donation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Zimbabwe: Media Stakeholders Hold Workshop, Validate Sexual Harassment Policies.

Stakeholders in the media industry in Zimbabwe consulted and came up with a common and enforceable plan to end sexual harassment across the industry. Most media industries already have policies that curtail sexual harassment but their enforcement levels vary.

The stakeholders met at a workshop in Harare to validate the draft policy. The minister of Information, publicity, and broadcasting services was in attendance and validated the sexual harassment draft policy at the workshop which was co-hosted by the Zimbabwe Media Commission Women in News. The minister was of the opinion that it would help rid the industry of sex perverts in the media sector. 

The function was also attended by media executives, civil society, and media stakeholders. The document is expected to provide safety for media practitioners notwithstanding gender.

While launching the workshop, Muswere hammered on how necessary the policy is to society as the sexual harassment issues inhibited media industry growth. He said, “As a government, we believe that we do not have a monopoly of knowledge and this is precisely why we are participating in this sexual harassment validation workshop. Of importance, as we develop the Sexual Harassment Policy that will take care of all the shortcomings that we have in terms of the gender policies in all newsrooms in the country, it is very important that we redefine what sexual harassment is. What is the scope? How do we triangulate that we have connected?” he added.

The data that would be collected would provide an opportunity to end the challenges associated with sexual harassment. He mentioned that the vice needed to be redefined by getting perspectives from males who were also victims of the vice. He also said the draft should be aligned with the existing laws that regulate the labor processes. 

The deputy executive of WAN-IFRA, Jane Godia while complaining of the rise in sexual harassment of female journalists said “We have been training women to gain skills in leadership and newsroom management. We realized that there are barriers to women progressing in the newsroom. When we asked around one of the issues that came up was sexual harassment was rife in the media and we decided to conduct research in 2017.” The research revealed that 48% of women who are working in the media have experienced either physical or verbal sexual harassment.”

Dr Asamoa-Baah Public Health Champion

The World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), recently named Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah  Public Health Champion. This is in recognition of his outstanding contribution to global public health.

Dr. Asamoa-Baah received the award alongside a former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae, and former Regional Directors of WHO in the Africa Region.

“This award is in recognition of your outstanding service to public health and promotion of the wellbeing of the people of Africa,” the citation presented to Dr. Asamoa-Baah by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, at the organization’s 75th-anniversary awards in Gaborone, Botswana, read.

The event was part of activities at the 73rd WHO Regional Committee for Africa Meeting held in that country.

In response, Dr. Asamoa-Baah described WHO as a force for good and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the organization for many years.

“I am grateful to the WHO Regional Office for Africa for this recognition and appreciation. I am happy that WHO is recognizing the role of member states and staff as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the organization,” he said.

Dr. Asamoa-Baah, a Ghanaian public health professional, joined WHO in 1998, serving the global public health for 19 years and rising to become the Deputy Director-General of WHO in 2007, until his retirement in 2017.

Dr Asamoa-Baah was instrumental in the establishment of the 2005 International Health Regulations and the raising of Global Visibility for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

His other notable achievements included the revitalization of primary health care; the establishment of a pre-qualification program as part of the WHO essential medicines program, and the development of the first global strategy for traditional medicine.  

“Dr. Asamoa-Baah is a distinguished global public health expert who deserves this recognition.

“Even in retirement, he continues to offer valuable service and contribution to both national and international efforts to promote the health and wellbeing of people,” the WHO Representative to Ghana, Prof. Francis Kasolo, said.

In 2020, President Akufo-Addo appointed Dr. Asamoa-Baah-Baah as Presidential Coordinator for the government’s COVID-19 Response Programme, where he coordinated the country’s response programs.  

Dr Asamoa-Baah was also recently appointed Chair of the National Vaccine Institute and interim Head of the Ghana Health Security Centre.

Christopher Olusa Attempts to Break GWR for Longest Speech.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lagos Blue Rail Line Commences Operations.

On the 30th of August, the Lagos State Government announced that the Blue Line Rail will commence on the 4th of September 2023. This rail will move from Marina to Mile 2.

On Tuesday, the Managing Director, of Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority while speaking at the Blue Rail Line Terminal in Marina, said that the Governor of Lagos State was expected to be the first passenger at exactly 9 a.m. on Monday. She also stated that partial passenger operations would begin on Tuesday, the 5th of September from 6:30 am to 10 am, for the morning peak; and the afternoon peak, from 4 pm to 9:30 pm.

The partial operations, according to Akinajo will start with 12 trips for two weeks, which will later be increased to up to 76 trips per day. 

As stated, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu arrived at Blue Line Rail and flagged off its commercial operations in the state. He implored the guests to behave in an orderly manner as well as obey the instructions to make the journey smooth.

He also boarded one of the Blue Line Rail trains at 9:07 a.m. as a signal to the commencement of commercial operations on the state’s intra-city train service.  

Six minutes later, at 9:13 a.m., the train taxied with Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Obafemi Hamzat; permanent secretaries, political leaders, and some passengers on board the train. 25 minutes later, the train was at the Mile 2 station despite stopping for two minutes each at the National Theatre, Orile, and Alaba train stations.

Sanwo-Olu, who thanked President Bola Tinubu for putting in place the intermodal transportation master plan for the state, which included rail, water, and road infrastructure, said with the completion and kick-off of commercial operations of the Blue Line Rail, the Red Line Rail project would be commissioned by the President.

He said the commissioning would be done before the end of the year. He also disclosed that train stations and bridges built along with the Red Line rail project would be commissioned by the first week of October.

#BeFree Youth Campus Set to be Established in Namibia.

A new center, the #BeFree Youth Campus, is being established to create a safe space for young people to flourish and reach their full potential. It will serve as a platform to inspire Namibian youth, help them exhibit their talent in a safe environment, and provide access to critical services.

Creating a supportive and empowering community for young people is crucial for them to thrive mentally, emotionally, physically, and economically. This is especially the case since the COVID-19 pandemic, given the immense impact it has had on people’s mental and sexual health, education and employment opportunities.

At 16, Maria Hailonga experienced a significant trauma that affected her mental health – the death of her mother. She needed help to deal with her loss but she had nowhere to turn. “The youth have no place to go to or talk about their problems,” she said.

Globally, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 19-year-olds.

Namibia has one of the highest instances of suicide in Africa, with an estimated rate of 9.7 in a 100,000 population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Triggers for suicide attempts include the ending of romantic relationships and marriages, family problems, physical or verbal abuse by a spouse or partner, the death of a loved one, and financial crises.

“A lot of us want to pursue our dreams, but some people do not live with their parents or do not have their support, so it becomes difficult because we do not have the resources,” Maria said.

In anticipation of the center’s opening, the Japanese Government and UNFPA, the United Nations Sexual and Reproductive Health Agency, together with the #BeFree Movement, recently held a tree planting ceremony on site.

“We are not only planting a simple tree, we are creating a form of protection, a form of mentorship, and a place of congregation,” said Sadam Biwa, #BeFree Movement Project Manager. “We as the youth have the ideas but we need the space, infrastructure, guidance, mentorship, and support from each other to create peer-to-peer relationships, so we can create these communities.”

If mental health issues are not addressed among young people, these issues can extend well into adulthood, where they can limit opportunities for leading fulfilling lives as adults.

To this end, the campus will provide prevention, mental and psychosocial support, and clinical services, according to #BreakFree National Coordinator Frieda Stephanus. This will involve awareness campaigns to empower young people to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health; male-centered engagements on sexual and physical development to increase male involvement in sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and related health issues; life skills and information-sharing for adolescents; and parental classes for teenage mothers to prevent infanticide and occurrence of unsafe abortions.

“This is a safe haven for the youth, for people with different abilities and minorities. I discovered many things that I did not know I was good at until I ventured into #BeFree. They are exposing people to what they are destined to be,” said Lesley Shetukana, a first-year university student.

“Look at how incredible things are when we engage young people to understand what their needs are and help them be a part of building solutions. That says a lot about the work that we are supporting in terms of putting young people at the center stage to build a country we want,” said Esther Nantana, Leaving No One Behind Project Coordinator, UNFPA.

Mental health and psycho-social support is a component of the Leaving No One Behind Project in Namibia, which is funded by the Japanese Government. The project’s primary goals are to restore dignity, reshape the future, and address gender-based violence and negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes for women, girls, men, and boys in Namibia.

The #BeFree Initiative is a youth-led campaign that provides a safe and non-judgmental platform for adolescents and young adults to discuss their challenges. It gives them access to relevant information and appropriate services. The initiative is integrating key learnings from #BeFree into Project #BeFree, a comprehensive youth center of excellence. The youth campus will offer a wide range of holistic services, including life skills programs, psychosocial support, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services (including comprehensive sexuality education), skills development, leadership training, entertaining and educational content for young people, as well as accommodation facilities tailored to meet the needs of adolescents and youth. The #BeFree initiative is a fundamental component of the One Economy Foundation, conceived by Namibia’s First Lady, Monica Geingos. UNFPA has supported the One Economy Foundation since 2016.

 

Namibia: Government to Launch Drought Relief Program Next Month

The Prime Minister, Hon Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, asserted that to solve the problem of drought and food insecurity, the government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, will launch a drought relief program effective from 01 October 2023 to June 2024.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister on Tuesday when she briefed the Parliament on the outcomes of the Annual Livelihood Vulnerability Assessments and Analysis (VAA) that her office conducted in all 14 regions from May to July this year, as required by Section 13 of the Disaster Risk Management Act, 2012 (Act No. 10 of 2012).

The assessments gathered and analyzed data on livelihood and food security for the 2023/24 period to inform policy and assist in understanding the threats of natural and socioeconomic disasters to food and nutrition security.

Moreover, staff from government offices, ministries, and agencies (OMAs), regional councils, local authorities, civic society organizations (Namibia Red Cross Society), the University of Namibia, and United Nations agencies (FAO, WFP, UNDP, WHO, and UNICEF) participated in the assessment.

The food relief program, set to roll out next month, will provide both food and water assistance to drought-affected households countrywide.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister stated that the Livestock Support Programme, which incorporates livestock marketing incentives and subsidies for fodder purchased, grazing leases, and transportation to grazing areas, will be implemented from the beginning of next month through March 2024.

Meanwhile, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stated that existing social safety net programs like the San Development Programme, which provides food assistance to marginalized communities, and the Conditional Food Bank in urban areas would continue to serve areas where the drought program was unable to reach.

She also highlighted that regarding the prevailing malnutrition cases in the country, the Ministry of Health and Social Services would continue with the nutrition program intended for assessing acute malnourished persons and refer diagnosed cases to existing feeding programs.

She said that the program would cost the government N$892.4 million.

“The VAA’s key findings are as follows: Between October 2023 and March 2024, approximately 695,000 people (equal to about 172,000 households) are likely to endure severe acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. When rainfall conditions improve between March and June 2024, a 7% reduction to 491,000 people is expected,” she said.

According to the Namibia Meteorological Services 2022/2023 seasonal report, Namibia experienced below-normal and sporadic rainfalls which culminated in a combination of flash floods and dry spells in some parts of the country.

“With the anticipated El Niño, which is likely to affect us during the 2023/24 agricultural season, the situation in the country will be negatively affected due to more dry and limited rainfall, which could put food security in the country at risk.”

“This has subjected communities to prospects of lower crop yields, impacts on livestock, and ultimately reduced household food stocks, compromising food security at household levels,” according to her.

She further noted that poor grazing conditions in most regions affect livestock body conditions. 2022/23 crop prospects show 153,000 MT harvest, 9% less than 168,200 MT from the previous season, indicating poor livestock conditions, she said.

The assessment indicated that 85% of the population obtains water from private and public taps, while 7% comes from boreholes. Additionally, 76.4% of the population walks less than 2.5 km to water points, with 5.6% walking more than 5 km, particularly in Kavango West, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Zambezi regions.

“On the reported cases of hunger among the marginalized Ovatjimba communities in Otjikojo, a village located 25km west of Okangwati in the Kunene region, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has provided the food assistance required. This intervention was necessary, and the government would act promptly to address such vulnerabilities,” she said.

Trans-Kalahari Corridor Significant for Regional Growth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Naija to The World” Tour Confirmed.

Organizers of the event “Naija to the World” confirmed today, that ‘Naija To The World’, the innovative pro-Nigeria showcase kicking off with a premiere dedicated to the Niger Delta, will tour multiple cities and venues, over 12 months, in response to feedback on the original announcement for a New York City Apollo debut. 

This was confirmed in a statement today by Efe Omorogbe, CEO of BuckWyld Media. Omorogbe says the tour will span Nigeria, Europe, and the United States of America. A full list of programming is set to be released when the producers convene in New York City for a flag-off media launch on September 16, 2023.

 Naija To The World was created by Buckwyld Media and BHM as a platform to provide an alternative narrative to the stories out there about Nigeria and Nigerians as part of an ongoing initiative to help the world understand and engage better with the country responsible for two of the world’s leading creative industries – music and film. 

 And a Niger Delta debut, organizers say, helps pay tribute to a region mostly known for crude oil, militancy, and protests with most not aware of its tremendous contribution to arts and culture, music, film, and fashion for over 100 years. At least 50 percent of the current crop of leading talents and executives in Nigeria’s creative industry are from the region; with top names including Burna Boy, Rema, and Timaya.

 “We want to provide an inaugural event that not only celebrates the incredible talent emerging from the Niger Delta but also captures the essence of its unique stories and heritage,” Omorogbe adds.

Performances and exhibitions will not only showcase the rich cultural heritage and inspiring stories of the Niger Delta but will also take audiences on a transcendent journey that spotlights the region’s unique artistic brilliance.

We are thrilled to announce that ‘Naija To The World’ will embark on a 12-month journey, crisscrossing Nigeria, Europe, and America,” says Efe Omorogbe, Chief Executive Officer, Buckwyld Media Network (BMN), organizers of the event.

 “This extended tour allows us to offer a comprehensive exploration of the Niger Delta’s cultural tapestry to audiences worldwide. It is an opportunity to celebrate the incredible talent emerging from the region and share its unique stories and heritage,” Efe adds.

 The flag-off event, scheduled to take place in New York City, will serve as the inaugural moment of the tour. During this event, organizers will unveil the tour’s itinerary, innovative format, and thrilling surprises. It will be a vibrant celebration of the cultural richness of the Niger Delta and its profound influence on the world stage.

 Over 1,500 lucky fans will witness this historic series of events live, while an additional 10 million viewers worldwide will tune in through broadcast partners spanning North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

 

Afro Nation Announces its Debut in Nigeria.

Afro Nation, an annual three-day music festival produced by Live Nation, Event Horizon, Smade Entertainment, and Memories of Tomorrow is being hosted for the first time in Nigeria and the dates have officially been locked in. 

This event which was founded by Obi Asika, and Smade in association with BBC 1 Xtra in 2013 promises to be a two-day thrilling event set to take place from the 19th of December to the 20th of December 2023.

The location of the event is set to be in Lagos and it is gearing up to showcase an extraordinary lineup of top-tier artists and electrifying performances. 

This event being hosted in Nigeria is very significant as it marks the homecoming of the festival to the birthplace of Afrobeats. This Nigerian edition is poised to become the standout event of 2023 which will unite the diaspora in the heart of Afrobeats.

The thrilling announcement was divulged through the festival’s official social media channels, intensifying the anticipation and enthusiasm among music enthusiasts worldwide. 

Afro Nation Festival, which initially debuted four years ago in Portugal, has been on an expansive journey, including a highly successful U.S. debut in Miami this past May.

Co-founder of Afro Nation, Adesegun Adeosun Jnr, widely known as Smade, expressed his sentiments regarding the decision to bring the festival to Lagos, Nigeria. He remarked, “Nigeria is home to numerous international superstars who have propelled Afrobeats into a globally cherished genre. As someone who grew up in Lagos and later spent years promoting African music in London and beyond, this is a full-circle moment for me. Bringing the Afro Nation show back home to Lagos is a dream come true. We can’t wait to witness the grandest celebration of African music the world has ever seen!”

this event will draw many tourists and increase tourism activities in Nigeria, making an impact on the economy of the nation.

Tanzania Gathers Experts, Discuss Africa’s Food Systems Goals.

Recently, over 4,000 delegates, leaders, and innovators from across the globe gathered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to discuss policy, breakthroughs, and innovations in agriculture and food systems transformation in Africa.

African leaders understand the effects of food insecurity and they have worked together on different occasions, bringing up different projects to curb this problem.

The event, which is the 13th annual Africa Food Systems Forum, will be held from September 5th to 8th, 2023, under the leadership of Samia Suluhu Hassan, the president of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The theme of the summit is “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation”.

Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Mohamed Bashe before the forum began emphasized that the forum represents a significant milestone in the journey towards establishing inclusive and sustainable food systems transformation throughout the continent.

“This year’s summit places a strong emphasis on empowering women and youth, recognizing their pivotal roles in reshaping Africa’s food landscape,” he said.

According to the managing director of the Africa Food Systems Forum, Amath Pathe Sene, in a statement on Monday, the event underscored the  need to tackle food system challenges, stressing that “It is imperative that we make our voices heard, develop solutions that are rooted in our local context, and give paramount importance to the empowerment of women and youth in the process of transforming our food systems.”

The forum will also build momentum for the Food Systems Transformation dialogue ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP 28 in Dubai.

Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 will specifically address the optimization of youth employment within Africa’s food systems while showcasing the innovative agribusiness ventures driven by young entrepreneurs.

Lesotho: Department of Housing Lobbies for New Urban Agenda.

In a bid to promote inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities, the Department of Housing in the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs, and Police is championing the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA).

While speaking at the meeting, Mrs. Mamorapeli Bookholane mentioned that the NUA, a pivotal global urban planning and management policy was adopted during the Habitat III summit in 2016, noting that the agenda aims to transform urban landscapes across the world, emphasizing the interconnectedness of sustainable urbanization with job creation, enhanced quality of life and economic prosperity.

She emphasized that the New Urban Agenda serves as a guiding light, expediting the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 11, which focuses on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, with a steadfast commitment to leaving no space and no one behind.

Mrs. Bookholane underscored the four transformative core dimensions that drive this agenda as Social Sustainability: The agenda places paramount importance on empowering marginalized groups, promoting gender equality, and embracing inclusive planning for migrants, ethnic minorities, and individuals with disabilities. The vision extends to age-responsive planning, ensuring cities cater to the needs of all demographics.

Economic Sustainability: Job creation and livelihood enhancement are pillars underpinning urban growth. Mrs. Bookholane recognized the essential link between economic prosperity and the overall well-being of urban communities. Productivity and competitiveness are critical drivers in realizing the New Urban Agenda’s objectives.

Environmental Sustainability: With an eye on the future, the NUA takes on the urgent matters of biodiversity preservation and ecosystem conservation. The Housing Directorate is leading efforts to strengthen urban resilience against the effects of climate change, fostering both mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Spatial Sustainability: Balancing spatial equity and urban density is a challenge that the New Urban Agenda confronts head-on. The Department of Housing champions the cause of spatial sustainability, ensuring that urban areas are thoughtfully designed and managed to accommodate the needs of their residents.

The agenda’s success hinges on effective implementation mechanisms across national, city, and local levels whereby at the national level, the NUA advocates for the establishment of comprehensive National Urban Policies, Land Policies, Housing and Slum-upgrading Policies, and urban legislation.

She noted that at City-level initiatives, the NUA encompasses urban design, municipal finance, and working in tandem with local-level efforts such as urban governance and further investment in municipal finance.

In the ongoing journey towards sustainable urban development, Mrs. Bookholane and the team are currently spearheading the development of regulatory legislation whereby at the national level, the National Housing Bill is in the consultation stage, while the National Urban Policy is in the initiation phase.

In conclusion, she noted that simultaneously, efforts are underway to establish a National Spatial Planning Framework, saying this is a critical step in shaping a cohesive urban landscape that aligns with the NUA’s vision.

Namibia, Lesotho Surpass Target for HIV Epidemic Control.

Namibia and Lesotho were among the six African countries that were recently announced as having achieved HIV epidemic control.

The announcement was made by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) global health supply chain program.

According to the findings, the two countries had high levels of viral suppression and retention in care, indicating effective treatment programs.

Data from the Population-based HIV Impact Assessment surveys suggests that Lesotho and Namibia have made remarkable progress towards HIV epidemic control.

“There is high access to HIV care in Namibia, with more than 190,000 clients actively on ART treatment, indicating significant progress towards reaching or exceeding the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV-AIDS’s 90-90-90 targets. The project in Namibia implements various supply chain and technical assistance activities to ensure uninterrupted supplies of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines in the country,” the agency says.

According to the program, technical assistance is provided to the Central Medical Stores (CMS) in forecasting and quantifying the need for ARVs in the country.

It says this forecasting ensures that adequate supplies of medicine are available.

In 2019, USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) assisted Namibia in developing a needs-based budget method that used various parameters to ensure the national budget was distributed equitably to all 14 regions.

Every year since then, the CMS and the Ministry of Health and Social Services have depended on the project to assist in allocating budgets to healthcare facilities,” USAID says.

According to the agency, the GHSC-PSM assisted the health ministry in changing antiretroviral treatment (ART) guidelines in 2019.

“The project was instrumental in bringing in the new treatment . . . in 90-count and 180-count bottles to make it easier for pharmacy staff to implement multi-month dispensing in three- and six-month multiples.

“Some of the products were directly procured, and forecasting technical assistance was provided to the ministry for government procurement,” the agency reports.

Health Ministry executive director Ben Nangombe yesterday said Namibia is honored by the international recognition.

“It is a demonstration of the fact that the programs we are implementing here are achieving the desired results . . .

“This is not only the success of the ministry, but also of the communities, individuals and organizations and associations of people who are living with HIV who are continuing to adhere to treatment,” he said.

Nangombe said although challenges remain, Namibia will still aim to achieve the 97-97-97 goals by 2028.

“Meaning that by that time we would want to have a situation where 97% of people who are HIV positive know their status, 97% of those who know their status are on treatment, and 97% of those who know their status are virally suppressed,” he said.

The agency said when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in 2020, GHSC-PSM played a critical role in predicting supply chain shocks.

“The project advocated for multimonth dispensing through the ART Supply Chain Technical Working Group. For this implementation, facilities needed to have enough stock to start the process,” it stated.

This intervention was successfully implemented and the project assisted the health ministry by monitoring progress.

“The GHSC-PSM project in Lesotho supported the government of Lesotho and the priorities of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) for global commodity procurement and logistics between 2016 and 2021.

The project has provided technical assistance to improve the long-term availability of health commodities and strengthen national supply chain institutions,” USAID said.

Furthermore, the project ensured the continued availability of HIV commodities, tuberculosis preventive treatment, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and family planning commodities at the central and facility levels.

The availability of commodities supported partners to attain Pepfar testing, treatment targets, and objectives.

All of these approaches have been essential to guiding the country towards HIV epidemic control, the agency said.

The executive director of the Namibia Networks of AIDS Service Organisations, Sandie Tjaronda, commended the achievement and went on to say that the gains are fragile, especially when funding for civil society is continuously decreasing.

“There isn’t much money coming to community interventions, and these are the interventions that require funding to sustain these gains,” she said.

Climate Action: Sierra Leone President Expresses Hope to Recreate Kenya’s Homegrown Initiative.

Sierra Leone President, His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio has addressed the launch of Kenya’s Financing Locally Led Climate Action, FLLoCA, program, as part of his engagement at the ongoing Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, where he congratulated the government on their innovative initiative.

“I wish to congratulate my dear brother and friend, President Ruto, for successfully launching this innovative initiative ─ a great example of a homegrown solution to a homegrown problem. There is a cliché that every politics is local. It is also true that climate impacts are local and affect the most vulnerable people in communities and far-off localities.

“I intend to replicate the Government of Kenya’s FLLoCA initiative in Sierra Leone to strengthen our 446 wards. I look forward to bilateral, South-South cooperation with our friends in Kenya to undertake the necessary assessments and formulation of a similar program shortly.

“We hope our donor partners will be encouraged to support this learning model among African countries. Such cooperation could shorten the time for the design of various programs. It could also help countries move faster into developing bankable projects to crowd in more significant private investment flow,” he said.

President Bio also stated that Sierra Leone was amongst the 20 most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change, adding that the impact of Climate Change was real.

“We continue to experience storm surges, flash floods, and high winds, accompanied by pollution, landslides, mudslides, coastal erosion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and increased prevalence of pests and diseases. If we do not act now, valuable ecosystems in Sierra Leone will be wiped out, and more communities will be displaced and their livelihoods destroyed,” he said. 

The President that Sierra Leone was implementing a coordination and reporting mechanism for all climate-related activities and projects at Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to facilitate and coordinate the country’s climate change programs and projects to be developed in line with national programs and the SDGs.

“The range of adaptation options has been well-defined through systemic and bottom-up national-level consultative processes. The process has been a significant achievement in raising awareness, building technical and institutional capacities, and integrating adaptation concerns into national development dialogues,” he concluded.

Earlier at the opening of the Africa Climate Summit, host President His Excellency Dr William Samoei Ruto, reminded his colleague leaders that trillions of dollars globally were looking for ‘green investment opportunities’ as the pressure to tackle the climate crisis heightened.

He said Africa was holding the key to accelerating decarbonization of the global economy, adding that they as leaders were not just continent rich in resources, they were also a powerhouse of untapped potential, eager to engage and fairly compete in the global markets.

“Consider this: every year, Africa needs to generate approximately 30 million new jobs to accommodate its rapidly expanding workforce. These are not just numbers; these are 30 million opportunities to build our future, 30 million dreams that can be fulfilled through climate-proof avenues of growth, and 30 million steps toward shared prosperity. The examples I have shared with you are not mere statistics; they are pragmatic routes for Africa to not only participate in the global economy but to excel and grow,” he said. 

Uganda: Mega-city Clean up Begins Ahead of Museveni’s Seventy-ninth.

A mega-city clean-up campaign was started in Constitutional Square spearheaded by the Minister for Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs, Hajjat Minsa Kabanda, together with Dorothy Kisaka, the KCCA Executive Director, and the chief Muzukulu Hajjat Hadija Namyalo from ONC

The KCCA frontline employees began the drive launch on Thursday, September 2, 2023, by cleaning various areas of the city in the early morning. The initiative aims to educate residents about effective waste management, lowering urban trash, and living wisely, all of which contribute to the agenda for smart cities.

The Minister, who was the launch’s chief guest, began by expressing gratitude to the KCCA ED, municipal mayors, and all other political figures for their cooperation in creating a smart city. She praised the frontline staff for their persistent efforts in maintaining Kampala’s cleanliness.

“Keeping our homes, workplaces, and city clean requires cooperation from all of us; cleanliness begins at home. Our city will continue to be clean if we clean our houses and places of employment and properly dispose of rubbish, according to Kabanda.

Kampala’s garbage management has improved as a result of effective mobilization, which the KCCA ED congratulated the frontline employees for. To create a smart city, she urged all the teams to collaborate as Team KCCA.

Making Kampala a really smart city is a top priority for us, according to Kisaka. “Good solid waste management, sanitation, and proper drainage in the city are high on our list,” he said.

At a time when the city is preparing for the Katonga Spirits event, which will take place on September 8, 2023, at Kololo Independence Grounds, the advertising has been helpful.

Along with the group, the Office of the National Chairman (ONC), represented by their head of mobilization, participated in the cleanup and campaign launch.

The KCCA ED promised that to ensure flawless preparations for the Head of State, who will be celebrating his 79th birthday on the same day as the event, the KCCA frontline workers would ensure that Kololo Independence Grounds were cleaned both before and after the event.

Every day, Kampala City produces roughly 2500 metric tons of waste, which is made up of 14% different waste categories like glass, paper, and textiles, 80% organics, and 6% plastics.

The KCCA collects this solid trash from homes, businesses, public spaces, and roadways and transports it to the Kiteezi dump.

Dr. Kisaka stated that this program to involve all Kampala residents is being launched as part of the KCCA’s endeavor to actualize the Smart City Agenda.

“Our frontline staff is not enough to ensure that every corner of our city is clean, which is why we have to support them by ensuring that our homesteads are kept clean and all waste is sorted and put in designated places where our waste collection teams can pick it up,” Kisaka added.

As always, the KCCA is responsible for collecting this material from all of those locations, but Kisaka emphasized that it is also the individuals’ responsibility to dispose of their waste properly.

With the addition of 10 new garbage compactor trucks in March, the KCCA’s fleet of trucks increased from 12 to 22 and improved its already-existing capabilities for the collection, transportation, and safe disposal of solid waste and fecal sludge as well as drainage maintenance. Now, each division should have a minimum of four compactor vehicles, one skip loader truck, and one tipping truck.

Private sector consignees for garbage collection in the various divisions, including Nabugabo Updeal Joint Venture, Bin It, and Home Clean for the Central Division, complement the authority’s waste management efforts. The collection rate for solid garbage increased from 35% in 2016 to 59% in 2023 because of the joint efforts of the KCCA and the private sector.

The mega clean-up drive’s call to action for city residents is to stop littering, make sure that every business, residence, and household has a trash can, store your waste until KCCA or a representative picks it up for safe disposal, promote the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle), encourage good hygiene and handwashing habits, and guarantee that everyone has access to a bathroom.

 

SMT Donate Books, Mathematical set to Savelugu School of Deaf.

SMT, a company that distributes Volvo automobiles in Ghana has donated books and mathematical sets to the Savelugu School of the Deaf in the Northern Region.

While visiting the school to donate books, they also held a Volvo Truck traffic safety course which was titled “Stop, Look and Wave” for the schoolchildren.

This Volvo Truck Traffic Safety Course is a global initiative by the Volvo Group to pass knowledge to children across the world and allow them to have a better understanding of how trucks operate and safety rules when encountering one. 

The course involves the application of an easy-to-understand way of making children aware of the risks and how best to avoid them. The course involved a practical demonstration of the safer use of roads by pedestrians. 

The Savelugu School for the Deaf takes in children with hearing disabilities from the region where they can receive an education in Mathematics, and English, but also teaches them to use sign language to be able to communicate and express themselves.

The Managing Director of SMT Ghana, Alex Dutamby presented the items and expressed the company’s dedication to giving back to society, especially those who are vulnerable as part of its corporate social responsibility and as part of the SMT Africa Group’s core values of caring, daring and sharing.

“Education means a lot to SMT Ghana and the Volvo Group and this is in line with our values of caring and sharing where we want to support schools for the students to continue to grow and learn, particularly towards those that won’t have the same chances as everybody else”.

Mr. Dutamby emphasized the Volvo truck safety for the kids as a reinforcement of its mandate of allowing staff to continue to focus on training, and this he believes will provide the opportunity for the students to continue to grow and learn.

The Headmistress of the Savelugu School for the Deaf, Nora Naaso, expressed gratitude to the company for the donation and training.

She said the school needed a whole lot of support and that the books came at the opportune time to help the pupils.

Mrs Naaso also appealed to other corporate bodies to come to the aid of vulnerable groups in the country.

The Training Manager of SMT Ghana, Jasper Agbakpe, who is a certified Volvo trainer for the SMT Group, was supported by other officials of the company to take the students through the Volvo Truck traffic safety.

The Marketing and Communication Director of SMT Ghana, Hilda Peasah, encouraged the students to take their studies and road safety seriously. 

Zero Polémik; DRC Festival Promoting Peace.

The 3-day event that took place in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo brought together fans of stand-up, improv’ and farcical comedy among other genres.

The event’s organizer Joyeux Bin Kabojdo says it aims to promote and consolidate peace and social cohesion within local communities in the DRC and the Great Lakes region at large.

“The festival exists for greater social cohesion that advocates education through entertainment, in other words, we think it’s possible to educate through laughter and that’s why every year for the past 6 years, we’ve been getting together around laughter with the public here in Bukavu. Humour remains today one of the components of development itself, and above all a foundation of social cohesion.

DR Congo’s east has been for decades the battlefield of rebel groups and regional armies.

Bukavu is located near the border with Rwanda

Évelyne Mulashe, a young comedian at the school of humor, shares how her art contributes to fostering peaceful coexistence.

“Humor allows us to tackle some of life’s most pertinent subjects, to get a message across. Of course, when delivering and hearing the message we laugh at first, but still people need to stop to think about it. I believe that somewhere a show, depending on its message, really helps to raise people’s awareness on certain issues.”

Ivorian comedian Kouamé Gilles Romuald goes by the stage name Boukary. For him, making people laugh is not merely a job, it’s a mission.

“Through my work as a comedian, I promote joy. You know that joy that comes with peace. When I’m on stage, those in the public don’t ask each other where their political affiliations lie or which side they support.”

“Everyone is here, attending Bukary’s show. We laugh together, fall on each other laughing; never knowing who supports which political party. What matters to me is promoting peace,” he concluded.

The Zéro Polémik festival ended on August 27. Comedians headlining this year’s edition included Ivory Coast’s very own Michel Gohou and Clémentine Papouet.

 

Rwanda Resuscitate Electrification Plan, Bringing Back Solar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nigeria’s Flag Designer Dies at Eighty-seven.

Micheal Taiwo Akinkunmi, commonly referred to as Mr. Flag Man was a Nigerian Civil servant best known as the Nigerian Flag designer. Taiwo, the older of a set of twins was born in Ibadan on May 10 1936  but originally hails from Abeokuta in Ogun State.

 

He relocated to the North when he was 8 years old and began his early education there. After his father retired, he came back to the West and re-enrolled at Baptist Day School, Idi-Ikan in Ibadan. He finished there in 1949 and proceeded to Ibadan Grammar School in 1950 where he enjoyed a very good education, leaving in 1955. 

 

He took an appointment as an agriculturist at the Western Region Secretariat in Ibadan as a civil servant. He worked there for years before gaining admission to the Norwood Technical College, currently known as Lambeth College in London where he studied electrical engineering. 

 

He designed the Nigerian flag while still studying at Norwood Technical College. He came back to Nigeria in 1963, returning to the agricultural department at the secretariat in Ibadan, and continued where he stopped.

 

He worked as a civil servant till 1994 when he was hired as the Assistant Superintendent of Agriculture. He was honored as an officer of the Order of the Federal Republic and honorary life presidential adviser on 29 September 1994 at the Abuja Conference Center. He has also been honored with the MON (Member of the Order of the Niger) Award by President Goodluck Jonathan. He got married and had kids of his own.

 

Taiwo came across the competition to design the red flag in a library and he entered it. In 1958, his design was selected as the best among those that entered the competition; in his own words “I took details of what is [to be] expected to design a flag that would be used by a country that was about to witness [its] independence”. Micheal Taiwo Akinkunmi unveiled the world’s largest national flag in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.

 

The original design of the flag is the usual green, white, and green featuring a red sun with streaming rays on the white band. The overseeing committee in charge of the flag eventually did away with the sun to produce the present design. Taiwo’s design was selected because of its ingenuity and profundity; the representation of the forests and natural wealth of the country, and the representation of peace. He was awarded 100 pounds by the government when his design was selected and the flag was officially hoisted on Independence Day instead of the British Union Jack. 

 

Pa Akinkunmi died on the 29th of August, 2023 at the age of 87. His son, Samuel Akinkunmi announced his death on Wednesday, 30th of August, in a recent post where he wrote “Life is indeed transient; I can say boldly you lived a life with a landmark. Continue to rest on, my father! Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi (O.F.R) Great Man has gone.”

 

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.

Congolese Sculptors Showcase Wood Carving Skills.

An astonishing sculpture show takes place at the Place du Jardin des Droits de l’Homme, a peaceful area in the heart of Brazzaville, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It is the third Woodworking Trade Fair that has drawn artists from all across the city to display their creations. They create a range of lovely items using indigenous woods including limba, kambala, ayous, and wengé or ironwood.

Magloire Ndassa, a master craftsman, showcases his most recent creation in an interview with African News. He says, “This is an elephant. It is gentle and friendly to everyone. Even foreigners who come to Africa, love to see the elephant. This one’s made from grey ebony, a very precious wood, very rare in the world, but found here in the Congo.”

The trade fair offers numerous options available for individuals interested in purchasing. Along with animals, you may also discover culinary items and a variety of other ornaments. Many find inspiration in this genre of work, including the artist Ludovic Mboum.

Ndassa explains “When you carve on wood, you find it precious. There’s not only its charm and the stripes of certain woods. But there’s also its softness. It’s beautiful because of its nature. The beauty of nature is priceless.”

Hundreds of sculptors are participating in the fair and showing not only their talents but also the rich legacy of their nation. 

Another participant at the trade fair, Christian Sanga Pamba says “We create art to elevate our culture and our creations. Although I do not personally create sculptures, the items I’m displaying here were left by our forefathers. They display a past way of life. We live the lifestyles we do now because of them.”

With wood being the second-largest sector of the Congolese economy, shaping this precious raw material is a significant source of employment. 

The National Artisans Agency organized the event, whose director general is Mireille Opa Elion. She says “You can see all the beautiful carvings we have. The country has a law requiring state buildings to be decorated or adorned with the work of Congolese craftsmen.”

Sculptors are participating in the event from six additional African nations.