technology

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

AFTSLusaka2023 to Expect Over 200 Organizations in Zambia.

As the Africa Fintech Summit gears up for its tenth anniversary, the scene is set for the largest confluence of fintech stakeholders from across Africa and the world. The summit, known for encouraging deep dialogue, alliances, and other ecosystem-enabling interactions, is slated to occur from November 2 to 3, 2023, at the Ciela Resort and Spa in Lusaka, Zambia.

 

The Africa Fintech Summit has developed into a venue where pioneers, businesspeople, policymakers, financiers, and other significant figures come together to set the direction of the continent’s fintech industry. The fintech business on the continent is experiencing exponential growth and change, therefore this year’s summit intends to quicken the pace of innovation, establish partnerships, and address the industry’s most pressing problems.

 

The public and commercial sectors’ most prestigious organizations will be represented at AFTSLusaka2023. The list of attendees for this year’s event is as vast and diversified as ever, including traditional financial institutions, regulatory authorities, and investment businesses in addition to cutting-edge fintech startups and disruptive digital enterprises. The following businesses and organizations have signed up for AFTSLusaka2023, speaking slots, or both.

 

Regulators, government, and NGOs that will present at the summit include; the office of the President of the Republic of Zambia, the Minister of Technology and Science (Zambia), Capital Markets Authority (Kenya), Prosper Africa, Africa Trade Initiative, U.S. Department of State, USAID, World Bank, UNCDF, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa, Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank, Norfund, and others.

 

Fintech companies like; Mastercard, Flutterwave, Pan-African Payments Settlement System (PAPSS), JUMO, Paystack, Yellow Card, Turaco, Multigate, PremierCredit, IDT Corporation/Boss Money, Fonbnk, Pastel, Power Financial, PrimeNet, OurPass, Minka, Chipper Cash, Tilt, PayGo Zambia, Klasha, ZeePay, dLocal, EBANX, Peach Payments, and others will be attending the summit.

 

Also, other companies from the banking and telecommunications sector (Ecobank, First City Monument Bank, MTN, and others), non-fintech (Amazon Web Services, Thales Group), ecosystem associations and players (Payments Association of Zambia, Bankers Association of Zambia, Kenya Bankers Association, and others), and industry research and consultants will be gathered. 

 

Rwanda Resuscitate Electrification Plan, Bringing Back Solar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Egypt Hosts Training Course With COMESA Monetary Institute.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Egypt Installs Solar in Four Archeological Sites.

On Tuesday, while the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities was giving a statement, they mentioned that Egypt has installed solar energy stations in four museums and archaeological sites across the country as part of a plan to promote sustainable tourism.

The four sites consist of the Giza Plateau hosting the Pyramids, Mohamed Ali’s Palace in Cairo, the Alexandria National Museum, and the Royal Jewelry Museum in Alexandria.

This move is part of an agreement signed between Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and other international development and cultural preservation institutions in November 2022, during the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) held in the Red Sea’s resort of Sharm al-Sheikh.

“The installation of green energy contributes to preserving, protecting and rehabilitating Egypt’s cultural heritage and helps to achieve the country’s sustainable development strategy Egypt’s Vision 2030,” they added in the statement.

The four stations have a total capacity of about 85 kilowatts and are connected to the electrical grids in Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

The statement also added that there are plans to extend the solar energy to the Sharm al-Sheikh National Museum in September.

Kenya: Plan To Deliver Digital Economy Nearing Fruition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zambia: Pemba Council Initiate Digital Transformation.

Pemba Town Council in Zambia’s Southern Province has embarked on an ambitious project to digitize its information management systems to improve governance and service delivery.

Established in 2013, the council has up until this point relied on paper-based records and manual processes for its operations. This has made access to information cumbersome for citizens, who have to physically visit council offices even for basic inquiries. It has also hampered the council’s ability to deliver efficient services.

To address these challenges, the council has now initiated a digitization drive with support from the International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD) and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

The overarching goal is to provide citizens access to council information and services through digital platforms. Specific objectives include improving the internal efficiency of operations, promoting transparency and accountability, enhancing citizen participation, and improving service delivery.

The target groups are council employees, residents, marginalized communities, schools, cooperatives, and community organizations. The core values highlighted are participation and transparency.

Council authorities say digitization will be a game-changer, allowing citizens to access details on budgets, projects, tender information, payments, application status, and more – all remotely from their phones or computers. This is expected to significantly improve convenience, inclusion, and satisfaction.

The council has already developed a web-based portal to manage information and applications for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). This will allow real-time access to CDF details for citizens as well as oversight bodies. Similar online portals and databases are being developed for other council services.

Key hardware including computers, servers, and internet connectivity has been put in place. Council staff are being trained on using technology to improve their productivity and customer service. Digitization of existing paper records is underway.

Pemba Town Council sees this as part of its modernization agenda and wants to be a model for leveraging technology to improve governance. They have engaged stakeholders including council leaders, the CDF committee, and marginalized groups to get buy-in.

Pemba Town Council sees this as part of its modernization agenda and wants to be a model for leveraging technology to improve governance. They have engaged stakeholders including council leaders, the CDF committee, and marginalized groups to get buy-in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SANEDI Partners With Denmark, Netherlands to Bolster Hydrogen.

An announcement  was made at a business forum held in Pretoria in June that Denmark and the Netherlands would join forces with South Africa to raise $ 1 billion was made 

Mark Rutte and Mette Frederiksen, the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands and Denmark, respectively, attended the forum, which Mathe says showcases the two countries’ support for South Africa’s energy transition ambition.

He highlights that this support is well placed considering the context South Africa has already created for a hydrogen economy.

According to Mathe, apart from resource advantages – abundant renewable energy sources in the form of wind and solar, accessibility to sea water which could be desalinated to produce water for use in producing hydrogen using electrolyzers, and the cobalt, nickel, platinum, and other minerals required to create and use hydrogen fuel cells and batteries – South Africa also has technical and knowledge advantages.

He outlines that this includes the country’s well-developed expertise in the Fischer-Tropsch technology and the production of synthetic fuels, which can be transferrable to green hydrogen technology.

“As an energy carrier, hydrogen is already used in a range of applications in South Africa (albeit currently produced from fossil fuels), and as such, its safe storage and transport are well understood.

“The country also has an established manufacturing sector and a vast labor force that is ‘completely trainable’, in the words of our Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy. All of this means the country has the potential to decarbonize traditionally hard-to-abate sectors, such as heavy-duty transport, aviation, and shipping, and industries such as steel, cement, and ammonia/fertilizer manufacturing,” Mathe acclaims.

He says that acting on this potential, South Africa started investing in hydrogen research, development, and innovation more than 12 years ago through a program called Hydrogen South Africa (HySA).

More than R500-million has since been invested in research and development activities, leading to South Africa developing intellectual property such as membrane electrode assemblies and integrating systems in the various sectors of the hydrogen economy, Mathe informs.

For example, he highlights that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa powered a field hospital using hydrogen fuel cells that combined national and international intellectual property.

Mathe notes that, over the past few months, Infrastructure SA, a program within the Ministry of Public Works and Infrastructure, identified a pipeline of 19 green hydrogen projects valued at more than R300-billion.

He adds that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) also secured € 23 million in grant funding from the German government to support the development of South Africa’s green hydrogen economy and help accelerate the country’s transition to renewable energy.

On an international level, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism states that any product manufactured outside the European Union using “dirty energy” will be subject to a significant carbon tax.

Given that South Africa is a substantial exporter of products such as steel, cement, and fertilizer, carbon neutrality and products produced using renewable energy and green energy carriers will do much to secure and grow the country’s export markets, Mathe avers.

He adds that the knock-on effect on these and other value chains will create considerable economic benefits, including job creation and mega-infrastructure development in underdeveloped areas.

From a domestic point of view, several policies are in place to support South Africa’s participation in the hydrogen economy.

Mathe says these include the Department of Transport’s Green Transport Strategy and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s Just Energy Transition framework, which advances the production and use of hydrogen in the electricity sector, and the South African Renewable Energy Masterplan which encourages the use of green hydrogen.

In June 2021, Trade, Industry, and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel established the Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Panel, led by the IDC.

The panel has private and public sector members and, drawing on the Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI’s) HySA program and Hydrogen Society Road Map developed South Africa’s Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy and Action Plan, which was approved by Cabinet in 2022, Mathe explains.

Mathe emphasizes that policy research, and development require implementation and that SANEDI can play a crucial role here.

He explains that the announcement of Dutch and Danish support for the $1-billion fundraising effort aligns with SANEDI’s five-year strategic plan and the current financial year’s performance plan.

“The conditions of this collaboration must, however, be well understood before South Africa commits to a long-term plan,” Mathe stresses.  

He says that regarding the five-year plan, SANEDI will champion and drive the demonstration and introduction of innovative renewable energy solutions in South Africa, including cleaner fossil fuels and cleaner mobility.

SANEDI also supports the DSI’s Energy Secretariat in managing research and development projects, with a strong focus on the hydrogen economy, and is establishing a knowledge base in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Mathe notes.

“While the green hydrogen future is bright, it would be foolish to ignore the challenges that must be managed. Green hydrogen is three to four times more expensive than grey hydrogen, which poses significant funding stumbling blocks, a challenge that is exacerbated by the need to repurpose resources and facilities that may be left stranded in the transition to a hydrogen economy.

“In addition, South Africa needs to establish standards and norms that directly address large-scale hydrogen storage and transportation (including hydrogen pipeline infrastructure), develop sufficient specialized skills and local manufacturing capacity and capabilities, provide certainty on intellectual property ownership, and resolve electricity grid constraints,” Mathe points out.

“These are not small matters to address and resolve. However, given the groundwork that has already been done, local advantages that already exist, the willingness of the international community to support the development of South Africa’s hydrogen economy, and the immense benefits it could deliver, it is an opportunity that must be pursued wholeheartedly,” he concludes.

Egypt Projects Increase in GDP by 2050 Due to Green Hydrogen.

The Information and Decision Support Center of the Egyptian Cabinet issued a report that predicted a rise in Egypt’s GDP between US$10 to $18 billion due to a nearly seven-fold increase in the green hydrogen economy by 2050.

According to the report issued on Tuesday, Egypt ranked fifth in the Arab world and North Africa in the green hydrogen index of Fitch Solutions for 2022.

The report reviewed the most critical legislative framework promoting green hydrogen projects in countries such as Germany, South Korea, the European Union, India, France, Chile, and the United States.

 

The Information Center confirmed that Egypt is one of the most promising countries in the field of green hydrogen, with the potential to attract domestic and foreign investments in this field – especially in light of its plans for green hydrogen projects.

 

This highlights the importance of providing a legislative framework to regulate hydrogen production projects and their various uses in Egypt, to maximize its integration into the global market for green hydrogen production.

Fitch also confirmed that Egypt is a pioneering country in green hydrogen projects, amounting to 11 projects with a capacity of 10.3 gigawatts.

The agency’s expectations also show that green hydrogen projects will enhance Egypt’s attractiveness to foreign investments in renewable energy sources.

Over the next decade, electricity consumption will continue to grow with a surplus in production and increased investments in inter-transmission networks.

Egypt’s exports of electricity to neighboring markets and Europe are also expected to increase.

In its 2021 report, the European Bank stated the importance of gas infrastructure, Egypt’s large investments in gas, and the possibility of mixing green hydrogen in available gas networks.

This indicates the possibility of directing current natural gas assets to support green hydrogen production, and the availability of clear incentives to explore green hydrogen.

Egypt, Nigeria sign MoU to Establish Fintech Bridge.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), on Monday, 17th of July, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a Nigeria-Egypt FinTech Bridge.

This announcement was disclosed through the official Twitter handle of Apex Bank

 

The signing ceremony was held at the Seamless North Africa 2023 conference in Cairo, a conference that brings together the entire financial ecosystem to discuss, debate, and evaluate the future of money.

 

According to the CBN, the deal was sealed after the two parties’ engagements on issues around payment systems, financial technology, and financial inclusion in Africa.

 

While speaking at the event, the CBN Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad, who signed on behalf of the CBN, said that the bank was extremely excited by the partnership with the Central Bank of Egypt, which followed several months of engagement on payments, fintech, and financial inclusion.

 

She said, “We look forward to cultivating an innovative space for fintech startups and entrepreneurs in Egypt and Nigeria to accelerate financial inclusion, deepen our payment systems and drive economic growth across the African Continent.

 

The Deputy Governor of the Bank of Egypt, Mr. Rami Aboulnaga, also spoke, he expressed optimism that the partnership would yield the desired expectation.

The groundbreaking partnership between the apex banks of the two largest economies in Africa encircles a broad range of collaborative initiatives, including joint regulatory innovation projects, coordinated licensing and supervisory frameworks, information sharing, fintech cross referrals, and talent development.

 

The MoU will help foster the exchange of expertise in the realms of fintech, innovation, e-payment solutions, and financial inclusion.

 

The conference was hosted by the Central Bank of Egypt and had in attendance over 4,000 policymakers, payment service providers, financial institutions, and technology startups from Egypt, Nigeria, and other African countries.

 

Ugandan, South African Win Royal Academy of Engineering Prize.

The final round of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation was won by two engineers from South Africa, Edmund Wessels of Flexigyn and Anatoli Kirigwajjo of Yunga from Uganda. 

Two other participants, a Nigerian engineer named Chukwuemeka Eze, owner of Revive Kit, and a Tanzanian engineer named Gibson Kawago, owner of WAGA PAWA Pack, each received $10,000. They also received medals, certificates, and branded wear Ghana T-shirts.

At the awards ceremony in Accra on Thursday, four finalists gave pitches before a panel of judges selected the winners.

One to Watch category winner CoolMax, a Nigerian engineer and owner of ThinkBikes, received £5,000 in addition to a certificate out of the other 11 selected candidates.

The largest award in Africa for encouraging and scaling up engineering innovation is the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, established by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom in 2014. Since its founding, it has assisted over 130 business owners in 20 African nations.

Through the alumni network of the Africa Prize, the entrepreneurs receive a rigorous business training curriculum and ongoing project assistance.

Professor Elsie Effah Kaufman, dean of the University of Ghana’s School of Engineering Sciences, spoke at the occasion and stated that innovation was not just limited to the engineering field and that it had many obstacles to overcome.

She listed some of the difficulties African innovators face as being limited access to capital, infrastructure, and technological resources, difficulties reaching underserved populations, bridging the digital divide, navigating complicated regulatory frameworks and bureaucracies, and a lack of funding for research.

She said that because African inventors were tenacious and resourceful, they were able to take advantage of their particular conditions and come up with ground-breaking ideas for the socioeconomic advancement of the continent.

“By capitalizing on the available opportunities and addressing the challenges head-on, African innovators have shown again the potential to drive transformational change and shape and prosperous future for the continent,” she said.

She also passionately urged all African women innovators to take part completely in future competitions for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and help develop future-oriented solutions.

Owner of Yunga, Anatoli Kirigwajjo claimed that his business was founded after he lost property valued at over $1,300 in a break-in with little likelihood of the thieves being apprehended.

“With the help of our domestic networks, communities should become less attractive to criminals, he said. This should protect the safety and open up opportunities for economic activity”.

He invited all African innovators to submit applications for the next Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation since it will give them a platform to expand their enterprises, make connections with the right people, and support them in doing so.

Flexigyn’s owner, Edmund Wessels, stated that after taking part in the initiative, he and his staff realized that providing the correct equipment to gynecologists alone was insufficient and that “we need to do more to help women across the continent.”

He continued by saying that anyone might become an engineer by learning on their own and attempting to change the world.

 

World Bank Awards Ten South African Start-ups.

Ten Southern African startups have received awards for their solutions to bridge the gap in financial access for underserved communities as part of a challenge supported by the World Bank.

The Fintech Challenge was part of the ecosystem development initiatives under the Southern Africa Innovation Bridge Portal supported by the World Bank to crowd-source new and impactful ways to utilize fintech innovations. 

The initiative aims to provide low-cost and appropriate savings and de-risking products for the low- and middle-income market and lending solutions for SMEs. 

“The region’s most innovative and impactful fintech companies unveiled their solutions to enable greater financial access to the poor, after an eight-week investment readiness program which included masterclasses and mentoring,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nellie, World Bank Country Director for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa. “Of the 15 participating startups, 10 were awarded financing. These businesses are investment ready and now eager to engage further with interested investors.”

In all, 10 Southern African startups were each awarded US$5,000 to get their businesses investment-ready at a recent awards event. 

South Africa was home to six of the winning startups, namely;

 Abela, a mobile payments company building an ecosystem enabling people to digitally send, receive, use, and save money, creating access to the most basic financial services. Our platform is cost-effective and easy to use, providing our customers with the financial autonomy and security they deserve.

Bento Technologies, a company that does business designs and develops software solutions. The Company provides a financial services platform that helps small businesses to manage and control expenses.

Fintr is an organization that specializes in financial innovation, technology, events, and publication services.

Moya Money, A customized and easy-to-use interface that simplifies freelancer-related processes for operational efficiency – at scale & in one place.

Sum1 Investments, which provides short-term investments for Stokvels and Savings Groups. They invest in income-generating assets based predominantly in township and rural markets across South Africa through the Sum1 Stokvel Fund. They believe in the power of the collective to create wealth and improve our communities.

 

And Thumeza, a start-up that provides working capital financing for those who power the movement of goods across Africa.

Two of the start-ups are from Lesotho, which are:

Chaperone, a mobile money platform that encapsulates several payment services for individual users and businesses. A platform where businesses can integrate with the payment gateway for quick secure payments from their customers, for e-commerce, or use a merchant portal. Individuals can also use it for sending and receiving payments, paying bills, and merchant payments.

And Prime Capital, a platform where access to financial resources is put in the hands of those needing them the most.

There was also one from Botswana, Ipachi Capital, a financial services startup that incorporates cutting-edge technologies to inspire Africa’s small businesses

And one from Namibia FundRoof, a company with a multinational vision and technical expertise in the area of financing, strategic consulting, business planning, and marketing.

ECOWAS Launches ROGEAP in Liberia and Mauritania.

Renewable energy industry stakeholders in Liberia and Mauritania participated in the formal launch of activities of the Regional Off-Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP) in Monrovia, Liberia, and in Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, on Thursday 8 June, and Monday 12 June, respectively. 

 

In attendance were experts from the Ministries in charge of Energy, stakeholders from the public and private sectors including civil society organizations, NGOs, the press, and commercial banks in Liberia and in Mauritania.

The aim of both national workshops was to introduce ROGEAP to stakeholders concerned, raise their awareness of PV solar technologies (off-grid) and ultimately create a regulatory framework that will promote the development of the off-grid PV solar products market in Liberia and in Mauritania.

In Monrovia, Mr. Kelvin Grugbaye, Director, Energy Efficiency and Environment, representing Liberia’s Minister of Mines and Energy presided over the workshop to kick off ROGEAP activities in Liberia. In attendance were H.E Mrs. Josephine Nkrumah, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Liberia, the World Bank Representative in Liberia, and Mr. Arnaud Kouadio Ba, ROGEAP Monitoring and Evaluation Expert, representing the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalisation, Mr. Sediko Douka.

In Nouakchott, the workshop’s proceedings were presided over by Mr. Ahmed Salem Bouheda, Secretary General of the Ministry of Petroleum, Mines, and Energy, and had in attendance Mr. Elhadji Sylla, Principal Consultant for ROGEAP, representing ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitisation, Mr. Sediko Douka.

Recall that ROGEAP is being implemented by ECOWAS Commission and the West African Development Bank (WADB). The aim is to increase access to sustainable energy services for households, businesses, government hospitals, and schools in the 15 Member States of ECOWAS and four other African countries (Mauritania, Central African Republic, Chad, and Cameroon) using solar technology. The USD 338.7 million project is funded by the World Bank, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), and the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the government of the Netherlands.

 

Nigerian Youth Spearheading With Eco-Friendly Transportation Solutions

Mustapha Abubakar Gajibo, a 31-year-old entrepreneur, designs and manufactures solar-powered electric vehicles in Abuja. 

 

Before now, Gajibo converted petrol-powered minibuses into solar-powered electric vehicles, in his workshop of Borno state. 

 

His intent had been to address two pressing issues in the world: the high cost of transportation and environmental concerns. “Going forward, I ventured into electric vehicles because of the problems the whole world was facing such as high cost of petroleum products, high cost of transportation as a result of the cost in fuel. And another alarming issue was the issue of global warming, largely contributed by emission from petrol powered vehicles which is hazardous to the environment.” he explained. 

 

In order to pursue this dream, he dropped out of university and established the company, Phoenix Renewable Energy. In 2017, he began building electric vehicles, but encountered numerous challenges along the way, from sourcing materials to funding.

 

Gajibo hopes to spread his electric buses across the country and potentially beyond. According to him, people from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau have expressed interest in his project. “We have built electric buses  which have a sitting capacity of 12 passengers and can cover a distance of 200km per charge. And it is fully air-conditioned with the latest technology including a voice command system. These vehicles were fully designed and built in Nigeria. Also, 60-70% of materials used for production were locally sourced.” He said to LeadershipNG.

 

Gajibo has brought Borno state and Nigeria into a new light through his invention. Despite the challenges following a new invention, he’s surrounded himself with a team of people who share his dreams.

 

 

Additional Sources: Leadership.ng

Government Accelerates Efforts to Increase Private Sector Participation in its Amenities.

The government accelerates efforts to increase private sector participation in its power, rail and water industries.

Presentations released on Tuesday by Operation Vulindlela, a unit run by the presidency and the National Treasury that aims to remove blockages to investment, showed the measures the state is taking in a bid to compensate for the deteriorating performances of state-run companies.

Private operators will be allowed to use state freight rail tracks, partners will be found for container ports and a unit has been established to encourage private sector investment in water projects.

South Africa’s state companies are in a dire state. The country is suffering power cuts of more than 10 hours a day because Eskom can’t meet demand.

“The primary focus is on addressing the electricity crisis and improving the efficiency of freight rail, both of which are weighing heavily on economic growth,” Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, South Africa’s minister in the presidency, said in a statement.

Decrees in 2021 and last year that removed caps on the size of power plants that companies can build for their own use has resulted in 108 projects with a combined capacity of more than 10GW being registered for construction, Operation Vulindlela said. Of those, more than 1 gigawatt will come on line this year and more than 3GW in 2024.

The presentations didn’t address a chronic shortage of transmission capacity that has hindered attempts to boost the amount of available electricity, with a government tender for projects flopping in December.

In the next quarter, an Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill will be introduced to parliament to establish a competitive electricity market. A board will be appointed for the National Transmission Co., a planned unit of Eskom, that will oversee the national grid.

The government unit said that Transnet SOC Ltd., the state ports and freight rail company, will by the end of October create an infrastructure manager to allow private companies to run trains on key freight tracks. Those rail lines move cars, metals and coal to ports and import fuel and automotive parts.

Transnet also expects to form partnerships with private operators at the Durban Pier 2 Container Terminal, part of Africa’s biggest container port, and at the Ngqura Container Terminal in the coming months.

The government is also helping Transnet to seek additional locomotives and is pushing law-enforcement agencies to reduce cable theft that’s idling sections of the Container Corridor, which carries goods to and from the port at Durban and the industrial hub of Gauteng.

A Water Partnerships Office has been established in the state-owned Development Bank of Southern Africa to boost private participation in water re-use, wasftewater treatment, desalination and sanitation projects, the unit said.

A bill will be submitted to parliament in the third quarter regarding the creation of a National Water Infrastructure Agency, a state company that will be responsible for the planning, finance and development of water infrastructure, it said.

“These reforms are necessary both to address the immediate challenges that we face, and to drive a fundamental transformation of our economy in the months and years to come,” Ntshavheni said.

Lesotho Engineer Provides Alternative for Electricity Issue.

As far back as 2014, it was really difficult to charge phones and laptops due to a lack of electricity. For weeks on end, businesspeople relied on dilapidated solar panels to power their devices.

“We were charging our gadgets at this guy’s house, and we were not charging from the battery, but directly from the sun through his inverter,” one of the people in Lesotho rural community, Thabane told China Dialogue. “After that, the laptop developed battery problems and I decided to devise a long-term solution.”

For Thabane, an engineer, that solution was solar-charging booths. Through his company Arbitrage PTY he set up six such booths in the Thaba-Tseka district and sold them to rural entrepreneurs.

The one in Mashai is owned by ‘Malimakatso Molatelle. She says her business makes a killing during the winter season from the end of March to the beginning of September.    

“We, the people of Mashai, used to struggle a lot with charging our phones because portable solar panels entirely depend on the sun rays for charging,” Molatelle said.  She points to climate change as having “made things worse because it can go up to a week without sunshine.”

Molatelle added: “Business is thriving in winter because owners of portable solar panels have no option but to come here and charge their phones for a fee of five Maloti (US$0.27).” The kiosk’s solar panels are more efficient, she explains.

Lesotho, a mountainous nation in southern Africa, is the coldest country on the continent. Thabane explains that cold temperatures are suitable for solar power because “solar panels generate electricity from sunlight, not heat. A bright and cold day is more ideal than a bright and extremely hot day for a generation.”

In addition to winter, Molatelle says business also thrives during the December holidays because of inter-community football competitions that take place next to her kiosk. Spectators come from neighboring communities and charge their phones while watching matches.

Whether derived from a specialist kiosk or a portable panel at home, solar power has changed many lives for the better in Lesotho.

Matholang Jane’s family relies on it. Her yard in Mashai bears a blue portable solar panel that feeds a battery covered in a silver cylinder, which functions as a phone charger, lamp, heater, and stove.

At least 47% of Lesotho’s 2.2 million people had access to electricity in 2020, a huge jump from just 4.3% two decades previously, according to the World Bank.

Lesotho is trying to increase access by connecting rural households to the national grid through a rural electrification program first introduced in 2004.

Lesotho’s total electricity demand is approximately 150 megawatts (MW). It meets about 72 MW of this demand via the Lesotho Highlands Water Project – a network of tunnels and dams that generates electricity for Lesotho and diverts water for neighboring South Africa. 

Thabane says he opted for solar panels made in Canada for use on all his charging booths. He says: “There are no reflective losses, and this is why ours work way better than those of villagers during cloudy days.”

Molatelle also sells solar battery lamps which people can use to light their homes and charge their phones. Although durable, the lamps rely on sun rays for charging.

The soft-spoken Molatelle, 49, says she first met Thabane in 2019 during a public gathering in her village.

She says she struggled to pay off the initial loan she had taken out to buy the kiosk from Thabane’s company after she was forced to close the shop during a series of hard Covid lockdowns. She has since settled the debt, she adds.

Apart from Thabane’s solar-charging booths, rural communities benefit from the off-grid electricity supplied by One Power, a Lesotho-based energy start-up. The company’s solar mini-grid system started operating at Ha Makebe in the Berea district in March 2021, according to the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics’ 2021 Energy Report.

On a larger scale, the Lesotho government is implementing its first solar electricity plant at Ramarothole in the Mafeteng district, which is expected to generate 70 MW once completed. The two-phase plant, financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, attracted controversy a few years ago when former ministers were accused of inflating its price to provide kickbacks for the politicians who pushed the deal through.

This company has not only provided a source of electricity, but it has also provided business ventures for people like Molatelle, and it has helped fight livestock theft as someone can call a popular community radio.

Tanzania: Gas-rich to launch rare bid round.

Tanzania aims to launch its fifth oil and gas licensing round by the end of 2023 in a move designed to revive interest in its largely dormant exploration and production sector.

After a blitz of offshore exploration, largely by Shell and Equinor, in the years to 2018, the focus point of the few oil companies that remain in Tanzania has centered on infill wells or improving existing well stock on coastal gas fields such as Mnazi Bay, Songo Songo, and Kiliwani North.

The anti-private sector policies of Tanzania’s late president John Magufuli saw oil companies divert funds elsewhere.

However, since President Samia Hassan’s rise to power in 2021, the oil and gas sector has seen signs of resurgence, with the $42 billion Tanzania LNG project back on the move, plans in hand to fully exploit the country’s 57 trillion cubic feet of gas resources and start exporting gas to neighboring countries.

According to Felchesmi Mramba, Permanent Secretary at Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy, the proposed bid round will be Tanzania’s first in a decade.

“The last time we did one was 2013,” he told delegates at the recent East African Petroleum Conference in Kampala, adding that the country has “many areas with potential”.

Shigela Malosha, director of contracting and licensing at Pura, Tanzania’s upstream regulator, said the licensing round is due to be launched in December 2023 or January 2024 and is expected to consist of 26 freshly demarcated blocks, 11 in deep water and 15 onshore.

“I think we are going to mostly offer licenses in the eastern onshore,” added Pura geologist Faustine Matiku, pointing out that the areas likely to be open to bidding will lie in the Rufiji, Ruvuma, Mandawa, and Mafia Deep basins.

The government is in the process of pulling together all the data needed, including 2D and 3D seismic and well data, and is in talks with a multi-client data contractor.

Malosha said the Dodoma-based government is also reviewing legislation, including the model production sharing agreement from 2013 and the 2015 Petroleum Act, “to make sure that the legal and fiscal terms are aligned with the current business environment”.

Future offshore and onshore gas discoveries could be fed into a 553-kilometer pipeline that currently sends gas from the country’s three producing gas fields in the south to the Dar es Salaam area in the north.

In addition, of the 23 trillion cubic feet of gas that will supply the Tanzania LNG plant, 10% will be provided to the government to use as it feels fit.

Given the abundance of natural gas in Tanzania and the expectation more will be found, the Ministry of Energy, headed by January Makamba, is considering plans to export gas to Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.

Mramba said “Zambia wants to have a gas pipeline running from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka”, potentially with a spur to Malawi, while discussions are underway about a 600-kilometer line that could link Tanzania’s commercial center to Mombasa in Kenya.

There is also a proposal to build a gas pipeline parallel to the EACOP oil line running some 1400 kilometers between eastern Tanzania and Kampala, with potential spur lines to Rwanda and Burundi

Eleven blocks in Tanzania are currently active including three deep-water tracts operated by Shell (blocks 1 and 4) and Equinor (Block 2) that will feed some 26 Tcf of gas to the proposed liquefied natural gas plant at Lindi.

Orca Energy and Maurel & Prom are currently producing gas from the Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay fields, with Aminex feeding gas to market from its Kiliwani North field.

ARA Petroleum and Maurel & Prom, meanwhile, have secured development applications for their onshore Ntorya and Mukuranga gas finds.

Onshore exploration licenses, meanwhile, are held by Swala Oil & Gas, Dodsal, and ARA in the Kiloso-Kilombero, Ruvu, and Ruvuma onshore plays, respectively.

 

Malawi Introduces Nationwide Typhoid Vaccination Campaign.

Blantyre, Malawi — Malawi has launched a nationwide rollout of the newest typhoid vaccine for children under 15.

A two-year study of the vaccine, the first in Africa, found it safe to use and effective in more than 80% of recipients. Health authorities say the vaccine is expected to reduce the threat from a disease that kills close to 20,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Typhoid fever is a contagious bacterial infection caused by consuming contaminated foods or drinks. Its symptoms include nausea, fever, and abdominal pain, and if left untreated it can be fatal.

Malawi health authorities said the typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV) rollout would be part of a nationwide program expected to start Monday when children will be vaccinated against three other diseases: measles, rubella, and polio.

However, some fear the campaign will encounter hesitancy and resistance from people, as was the case with COVID-19 vaccines, which led to the burning of about 20,000 expired doses in Malawi in 2021.

George Jobe, the chairperson of the Universal Health Coverage Coalition in Malawi, told VOA that efforts were made to educate people on the importance of the campaign.

“There was training for community health care workers as well as teachers so that they take messages to community leaders, who would also take messages to their subjects,” Jobe said.

Terrible toll

Typhoid has long been a health threat in Malawi and across sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 1.2 million cases and 19,000 deaths each year.

In 2018, Malawi became the first country to use TCV to fight typhoid infections in children under clinical trials.

Over 20,000 children from 9 months to 12 years of age took part in a clinical trial in Malawi led by Professor Melita Gordon of the University of Liverpool. The trial found the vaccine was safe and was more than 80% effective.

Priyanka Patel, an understudy doctor at the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome program, told VOA that this vaccine can offer protection for at least four years, making it a highly effective and efficient tool for preventing the spread of typhoid.

“Secondly,” Patel said, “the typhoid conjugate vaccine can be given to children as young as 6 months old, making it easier to reach vulnerable populations. This is in contrast to older vaccines, which were not approved for use in young children.”

In Malawi, TCV was expected to be rolled out in 2021, but the effort was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gianfranco Rotigliano, the country representative for the U.N. children’s agency in Malawi, urged the government to prioritize its immunization campaign in hard-to-reach areas where most of the children are unvaccinated.

“Vaccination is a right, health is a right,” he said. “So we should look for children who are not vaccinated, because in urban areas most of the children are vaccinated, but there are those who never got even one dose of vaccine.”

Government authorities hope the campaign will be a success, following the efforts they have put in place to educate people on the importance of vaccinating children.

In 2018, Malawi became the first country to use TCV to fight typhoid infections in children under clinical trials.

Over 20,000 children from 9 months to 12 years of age took part in a clinical trial in Malawi led by Professor Melita Gordon of the University of Liverpool. The trial found the vaccine was safe and was more than 80% effective.

Priyanka Patel, an understudy doctor at the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome program, told VOA that this vaccine can offer protection for at least four years, making it a highly effective and efficient tool for preventing the spread of typhoid.

“Secondly,” Patel said, “the typhoid conjugate vaccine can be given to children as young as 6 months old, making it easier to reach vulnerable populations. This is in contrast to older vaccines, which were not approved for use in young children.”

In Malawi, TCV was expected to be rolled out in 2021, but the effort was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gianfranco Rotigliano, the country representative for the U.N. children’s agency in Malawi, urged the government to prioritize its immunization campaign in hard-to-reach areas where most of the children are unvaccinated.

“Vaccination is a right, health is a right,” he said. “So we should look for children who are not vaccinated, because in urban areas most of the children are vaccinated, but there are those who never got even one dose of vaccine.”

Government authorities hope the campaign will be a success, following the efforts they have put in place to educate people on the importance of vaccinating children.

 

WORLD’S TALLEST BUILDING MADE OF CARBON-NEGATIVE MATERIAL SET TO OPEN BY JUNE IN CAPE TOWN

A 12 storey building located at 84 Harrington Street in Cape Town’s  has been recognized as the world’s tallest building constructed from hemp materials.

 

Due to the plant based material used, the walls of the building captures more carbon in the atmosphere than what is emitted during production. They also have brilliant thermal insulation properties which lowers the need for heating and cooling systems, therefore saving energy cost.

 

The manufacturer of the  “HempConcrete” blocks used in the hotel was Afrimat Hemp. The blocks from Afrimat Hemp, which are totally manufactured with South African hemp and sold to corporate clients as well as being used to construct a number of social housing projects in South Africa and the neighboring country of Mozambique. They are made from water, lime, hemp, and a cement binder.

 

Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, believes that the hemp and cannabis industries might generate 130,000 jobs in locations like Afrimat Hemp.

 

The company acknowledges that using hemp in construction costs 20% more than using traditional materials, but the urgency with which some businesses want to combat climate change presents them with a unique opportunity: selling carbon credits, but with buildings rather than trees.

 

Afrimat Hemp collaborated on the construction of the Hemp Hotel with Wolf Architects in Cape Town.

 

Ghana: Wikimedia Languages Meet-ups Begin in Tamale.

  • Ghanaian Wikimedia Languages mini-conference has began in Tamale.
  • It is the first of its kind designed to bring Wikimedians together who are working on the indigenous languages Wikipedias in Ghana.

The Ghanaian Wikimedia Languages mini-conference is in existence to bring together Wikimedians working on the indigenous language Wikipedias in Ghana. This mini-conference began in Tamale. The aim of this event is to give the participants a sense of belonging and to boost their confidence in digitizing their languages to prevent extinction.

Up to sixty Wikimedians from nine Ghanaian languages Wikimedia communities will also help to bridge the digital divide that keeps people from accessing the internet due to language barriers.

This two-day conference would give participants from the various communities in the country the opportunity to brainstorm on how to better distinguish language platforms and learn from others what has worked and what has not worked.

Sadik Shahadu, the founder of the Dagbani Wikimedians User Group, encouraged participants to cooperate and provide a helping hand to one another because they come from different backgrounds.

“Irrespective of the language you speak, let’s embrace the fact that all of us are unique,” Sadik said.

Sadik underlined that while each community has distinctive skills and experience, bringing them together would allow them to learn from one another in areas such as community development, volunteer retention, and leadership development, among others.

“Also to recruit new volunteers: meet ups provide avenues for creating awareness about the existence of Wikimedia volunteers which attract the attention of the general public hence leading to the recruitment of more volunteers.”

The Ghanaian Wikimedia Languages meet up is the first of its kind designed to bring Wikimedians together who are working on the indigenous languages Wikipedias in Ghana.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

KENYA: World Bank Approves Grant For Digital Economy Acceleration Project.

  • World Bank recently approved a $390 million grant for Kenya’s Digital Economy Acceleration Project.
  • The project will transform the country into a  regional ICT hub.
  • Kenya’s progress was also highlighted.

World Bank recently approved a $390 million grant for Kenya’s Digital Economy Acceleration Project.

The first phase of financing meant to facilitate the expansion of Kenya’s high-speed internet, improve the quality of education and selected government services, and build skills for the regional digital economy, is being taken care of as the world bank recently approved a $390 million grant for Kenya’s Digital Economy Acceleration Project.

This funding will use Multi-phase Programmatic Approach (MPA) in two phases, with the first running from 2023 to 2028, and the second from 2026 to 2030.

Through this project, Kenya plans to increase last-mile broadband connectivity and also increase equitable distribution of digital networks by reducing gaps in connectivity and digital skills through the growing online market.

The project will transform the country into a  regional ICT hub.

The digital agenda aims to transform the country into a  regional ICT hub by increasing fiber optic coverage to 100,000 km and digitizing 80% of public services. The project also aims to strengthen Kenya’s capacity to drive regional digital integration with positive spillovers to other countries.

As a regional tech hub, Kenya has grown significantly with their many innovations and commendable government support.

The recent government which only came to power in August last year has articulated its intention to accelerate and broaden the digital space to create more jobs and open up the country for more investments.

Kenya’s progress was also highlighted. 

At the Connected Summit 2023 held earlier this month, the government highlighted Kenya’s progress and potential for future growth in the digital economy.

Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Digital Economy, outlined the government’s strategic initiatives, including the Kenya National Digital Masterplan – 2022-2032, which identifies technology as a key pillar in its Transformation Agenda. The Masterplan focuses on five thematic areas: Agriculture, Micro Small, and Medium Enterprises, Healthcare, Housing and Settlements, Digital Superhighway, and the Creative Economy.

Libya Adopts ICT Sector Strategy.

  • The National Strategy for the Communications and Informatics sector in Libya with the head of the General Authority for Communications and Informatics Abdel Basset Al-Baour and in the presence of the Chairman of the Holding Company for Telecommunications (LPTIC), Mohamed Bin Ayad has been approved.
  • the head of the General Authority for Communications and Informatics reviewed the most important recent achievements while talking about the adoption of the strategy.

Libyan prime minister Abd Alhameed Aldabaiba approved the National Strategy for the Communications and Informatics sector in Libya with the head of the General Authority for Communications and Informatics Abdel Basset Al-Baour and in the presence of the Chairman of the Holding Company for Telecommunications (LPTIC), Mohamed Bin Ayad.

When he was talking about the adoption of the strategy, the head of the General Authority for Communications and Informatics, Abdelbaset Al-Baour, told the Libya Herald that the completion of work on the strategy and its launch is a major event that will lay the foundation for effective projects that will, in turn, contribute to the development of communications and informatics in Libya.

He made reference to the continuous work and the great effort exerted by national cadres specialized in the field of communications and information technology in building and launching the strategy. He also made reference to their commitment to providing communication, internet services, and technical solutions to all sectors during the past year, which were arduous for workers in the sector.

Al-Bauour also commended the role of Prime Minister Alabaiba in restoring life to the telecommunications sector by developing the legal environment, referring to the challenges of global digital transformations and the vital role of telecommunications in economic and social development. He said this prompted the Authority to develop work mechanisms according to a new vision that is compatible with recent developments and achieves development.

He reviewed the most important recent achievements, including the adoption of executive regulations in the Telecommunications Law, the preparation of a draft of a new law for communications and information technology, in addition to the settlement of all administrative and financial procedures for the Authority, which supported and stimulated more effort, in addition to supporting the expansion of partnership with the private sector.

Regarding the strategy and its details, Al-Baour said that it was signed within the framework of the Communications Authority’s vision aimed at creating a sustainable and secure digital sector for a knowledge-connected society capable of transforming Libya into an international transit center across Africa. It also aims to integrate informatics in all sectors of the country to achieve sustainable social and economic development.

He added, “Through the strategy, the Communications Authority aims to provide communications for all at fair prices, create an enabling environment for communications and informatics, as well as use communications and informatics for good governance.

It also aims to ensure the security of infrastructure and the integrity of confidentiality of data used, in addition to improving economic growth and sustainable development, developing skills and promoting the erasure of digital illiteracy, and the provision of comprehensive postal services with appropriate quality and prices.

To achieve the strategy, he expanded, the Authority relies on solid management placing communications and informatics at the heart of the economic program. This includes enabling everyone to access information, investing in human capabilities in the field, in addition to enhancing sustainability, conducting accurate measurements that ensure the integrity of sector data, updating statistics and dissemination, and building and ensuring sound and secure systems.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

South Africa: Solar Project at Karl Bremer Hospital.

  • Solar PV has been installed at one of the health department’s administration buildings, Bellville Health Park at Karl Bremer Hospital.
  • The project could make a huge difference in ensuring the office park is cushioned from load-shedding.

Solar PV has been installed at one of the health department’s administration buildings, Bellville Health Park at Karl Bremer Hospital.

Solar PV has been installed at one of the health department’s administration buildings, Bellville Health Park at Karl Bremer Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. Alan Winde of Western Premier Cape said that the project is one of several renewable energy initiatives that will ensure that the province is energy resilient. This project is expected to save the Western Cape government millions of rand in electricity bills and cushion it from load-shedding.

The project started in October last year and it has seen 1,400 solar panels installed above parking bays at the facility. The ground-mounted solar system is linked to five separate inverter stations mounted in vandal-proof and theft-resistant cages, it generates 663kWp. The inverter stations connect to the solar panels and convert direct current to alternating current in the building. From here, cables connect it to a miniature substation that provides power to the administration building, which is connected to the rest of the Karl Bremer hospital precinct electrical network.

The project could make a huge difference in ensuring the office park is cushioned from load-shedding.

While Alan toured the facility, he noted that the project could make a huge difference in ensuring the office park is cushioned from load-shedding. He said, “Our services must be protected as far as possible from blackouts, and through this initiative, we are making sure this is the case. Apart from the solar panels installed on the parking bays, Bellville Health Park’s entire roof is also fitted with solar PV panels, boosting its energy production.” He also believes that it has the potential to save the facility up to R5m in electricity costs each year. The solar roof will not only result in having its power, “but our employees and clients also get shaded parking”.

He also encouraged the private sector to play its part in generating renewable energy. “Together we will be able to bolster our energy security drive. We have made it a priority for our government to find ways to mitigate the impact of blackouts on our services. This has been demonstrated through our budgetary allocations across our departments as well as meaningful investments. The newly launched Western Cape Department of Infrastructure has been key in helping to boost energy efficiency at government-owned buildings and facilities.”

According to Winde, a long-term plan to develop and maintain critical infrastructure projects is an important component of the latest solar project.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Morocco set To Become Europe’s Green Energy Source

Morocco has made energy independence one of its main strategic axes since the early 2000s. They however have a two-fold problem; they hardly produce hydrocarbons and do not have the necessary technology for nuclear energy.

Their solution in recent years has been to resort to the sun and the wind, which are its strong points. The goal would be to reduce energy imports and substantially increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix, with its sights set for 2030.

      

Once this is achieved, Morocco would become a major African leader in the field of renewable energy. Their success however is dependent on the capacity of the Moroccan energy network to integrate with the European one.

Morocco is now making a bid to become Europe’s primary source of green energy. Europe aims to transition to renewable energy, spurred by its efforts to end its dependence on Russian oil in the wake of that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Morocco may hold the key thanks to its abundant sunshine and relatively close proximity to Europe. Moroccan leaders see an opportunity to become a leader in the next energy revolution. “Other countries leverage the fact that they have oil. We don’t. We leverage wind and solar,” Mohamed Alaoui, managing director of Africa Climate Solutions, told the Post. “In Morocco, we see it as a huge opportunity.”

Morocco already built a grand solar facility near Ouarzazate, but experts say there is no practical reason the country can’t significantly expand its solar capabilities. Energy economist Jonathan Walters says, “There’s almost unlimited potential.”

Morocco already built a grand solar facility near Ouarzazate, but experts say there is no practical reason the country can’t significantly expand its solar capabilities. Energy economist Jonathan Walters says, “There’s almost unlimited potential.”

In addition to its abundant sunshine, Morocco benefits from its ample available land that is flat and not in use, unlike much of Europe. Morocco is already connected to Spain via undersea power cables that span the ten-mile-wide Strait of Gibraltar. “The comparative advantage is pretty straightforward as long as policies don’t discriminate against it,” said Walters.

Flutterwave Selects Kenya as East Africa Regional Hub

  • The announcement was made during the 3rd American Chamber of Commerce Business Summit in Nairobi.

  • Flutterwave acknowledges Kenya for its crucial contribution to the East African region.

  • Flutterwave’s vision is in line with East Africa to promote SMEs.

Nigerian fintech company, Flutterwave has announced the selection of Nairobi Kenya as its regional hub in East Africa. Flutterwave is a leading payments technology company in Africa. The company’s Chief Regulatory and Government Relations Officer, Mr. Oluwabankole Falade revealed this during the 3rd American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Business Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The summit brought together the AmChams across East Africa, including a senior U.S. government delegation, U.S. investors convened by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center, and East African businesses and officials to pave the way for enhanced US commercial engagement with Kenya and the East Africa Region. There were more than 500 American and East African representatives who participated.

According to Mr. Falade, Kenya is acknowledged for its crucial contribution to the East African region and also for the country’s business-friendly climate and technological prowess. “As a business with African roots, headquartered in San Francisco, we are aware of the importance of empowering the small business owners, an objective shared by the Kenyan administration”.

At the two-day event, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Witman anchored and delivered her opening remark on “Why Africa, Why Kenya. President William Ruto announced new measures to increase U.S. trade and investment in the country, including steps to support the SME sector, a part of Flutterwave’s business.

Flutterwave sponsored the AmCham event and is a member of AmCham in most markets where it conducts business, including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia. It is also a U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center board member

Mr. Falade said, “We are also glad of the support we have received from the Government of Kenya, AmCham stakeholders, and leadership across the region, and we are proud to have chosen to support the Summit and see many other global firms who we work with such as Amazon and Uber choosing to settle here as well. We are in good company”.

In line with the strategy of the East Africa region, Flutterwave guarantees that SMEs are given access to effective, straightforward, and cost-effective digital solutions that help their companies become profitable globally.

Kenya Launches First Operational Earth Observation Satellite.

On Saturday the 15th of April 2023, Kenya launched its first operational earth observation satellite. It was onboard a SpaceX rocket from the United States, a live feed from Elon Musk’s rocket company showed.

This satellite was developed by nine Kenyan engineers, it will collect agricultural and environmental data, including on floods, drought and wildfires, that authorities plan to use for disaster management and to combat food insecurity.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Taifa-1 satellite, took off at about 06:48 GMT without incident from Vandenberg Base in California, after three postponements due to bad weather.

“Taifa-1 separation confirmed,” Space X said during its broadcast when the satellite was released about an hour and four minutes after the rocket’s launch. “We have the challenges that have been brought about by climate change, which the satellite, by virtue of being able to capture images (will be able to help monitor)”, Capt. Alloyce Were, an aeronautical engineer and deputy director of Navigation and Positioning at the government-run Kenya Space Agency, told Reuters on Friday before the satellite’s launch.

We can monitor forest changes, we can monitor urbanisation changes.”

The satellite was put together with the help of Bulgarian aerospace company Endurosat at a cost of 50 million Kenyan shillings ($372,000) over two years, the space agency said.

The agency says it will operate for five years and then decay over 20 years, entering the atmosphere and burning out.

The launch rocket had 50 payloads from other countries, including Turkey, under SpaceX’s rideshare program.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Libya: Agreement Signed For Power Plant in Zliten.

A contract for a new power plant has recently been signed by Mohamed al-Mashai, the president of the Libyan company, General Electric Company. The power plant has a production capacity of 1.044 megawatts and will be in Zliten, a city in western Libya.

The announcement was made by the company in a note published on its Facebook page; it specified that the signing ceremony of the project for the construction of the new plant imported from the German company Siemens and created by the consortium of the two companies (Urbacon Trading and Contracting Elsewedy Electric), was held at the prime minister’s office in the presence of the head of the Government of National Unity (GUN), Abdulhamid Dabaiba.

They also explained that the plant consists of six units with a total production capacity of 1.044 megawatts, and the expected completion date is within 26 months. 

General Electric Company clarified that the project is part of the plans of the company’s board of directors to improve the overall grid situation and boost production capacity in line with energy demand.

     

Qatar’s UCC Holding and Egypt’s Elsewedy Electric have been awarded $1.3 billion to build the 1GW Zliten power plant.

General Electricity Company of Libya is an Electrical and Electronic Manufacturing company located in Jamahiriya Area, General Electricity Company of Libya Building, Libya, 668, Al Swani Street, Tarabulus, Tripoli, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Morocco: UM6P, OCP Pledge $200m to Agrictech Start-ups.

Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) and the OCP Group have pledged $200 million to Bidra Innovative Ventures. The program will broaden Bidra’s investment horizon to cover developments in agriculture, mining, water, and energy. The pledge will support cutting-edge, international agric tech start-ups that combat climate change. UM6P is a center for learning, research, entrepreneurship, and innovation that strives to establish partnerships with universities all around the world. The OCP Group claims to be the “world’s largest” producer of phosphate fertilizers and offers solutions for plant nutrition.

 

The president of UM6P and board chair of Bidra, Hicham El Habti said, “This fund will expand our investment in reducing the carbon footprint of the agriculture industry while tackling the challenges of food security, urbanization, and industrialization”. He explained that supporting Bidra’s initiatives is a part of UM6P’s dedication to funding sustainable agriculture, educating the upcoming generation of business owners, and elevating Morocco and Africa to the forefront of technology.

 

Also speaking on the occasion, Amar Singh, Head of Group at Bidra Innovation Ventures, “UM6P recognizes the role innovation must play to sustainably solve global challenges. Having OCP’s support is a tremendous advantage because now we can extend OCP’s regional know-how and distribution capacity to startups that are ready to scale.”

 

The founder and CEO of Niqo Robotics, Jaisimha Rao said “With the support of Bidra, UM6P, and OCP Group, we continue to develop our robotic technology to benefit farmers in emerging markets that currently rely on outdated methods and manual labor”.

This most recent round was initiated a year after the same investors helped Bidra form a $50 million agriculture-focused fund. AgroSpheres, a startup creating the next wave of eco-friendly crop protection solutions, raised $22 million in a Series B fundraising round in October, with Bidra taking part.

 

LAUNCH OF ZIMBABWEAN CHAT PLATFORM.

A chat platform for Zimbabwe has been invented. This platform will offer a one-stop shop for businesses and individuals alike to connect seamlessly from any part of the world.

 

 

This platform is called Talk Chart and it was developed by Prevail International. The platform will be launched this month and will enable Zimbabweans to connect with the outside world at a faster speed.

 

 

Prevail International Group CEO, Mr Tempter Paul Tungwarara said the new app will be a one-stop shop as it connects people and will, going forward, allow users to transact as there are plans to have a payment gateway linked to banks and other financial institutions on the platform. “As we build on the mantra – Zimbabwe is open for business – we want not only Zimbabweans to connect with each other but the outside world as well. The application is available for download on Play Store,” he said. He also said, collaboration and communication are the foundation of building a successful work environment, investment, strong family bonds, and corporate ties.

 

 

On the platform, one can send and receive text messages, photos, videos, voice messages, and transact. Whether chatting one-on-one or in a group chat, the app allows one to express oneself and stay connected with other people. Talk Chart is a fast, reliable, and secure chat app that lets people stay connected. The app uses state-of-the-art encryption to keep messages safe and private, so users can confidently chat knowing that their conversations are secure.

 

 

The developer, Prevail Group Dubai, says the app’s privacy practices also include handling data in a professional manner. 

Mobile apps are leading the market with improved branding, customization, and user interaction. Since their inception, they have been disrupting the entire way people have accessed internet services.

 

 

Especially, Commerce has found its thriving ground once it moved into an app-centric strategy. Over half of the internet traffic is coming from mobile devices and most of them are from mobile apps.

 

 

Tungwarara said the advantages of using mobile applications such as Talk Chart’ are that they are faster than mobile websites. ”Even a well-groomed and optimized responsive mobile website cannot match the speed of an app. Businesses are all about giving the service as fast as possible today. A slight lag can cause massive loss and that leads to customer discontent.” he said.

 

 

He also said  ‘Talk Chart’ can leverage the features of native devices seamlessly. This opens a great opportunity to engage with the users’ productivity. For businesses, mobile apps are a great way to reduce costs with assured productivity. As apps can connect vendors and customers through a single direct channel, it reduces the extra marketing expenses.

 

Tanzanian undergraduates to receive Sh10,000 daily.

  • An assurance of what to eat will make a student at ease.
  • The government of Tanzania has given that assurance to the undergraduates in the country.
  • A specified sum of money will be given to the students daily to cater for their feeding and aid learning.

From the following fiscal year, undergraduates drawn from different tertiary Schools in Tanzania will begin to collect 10, 000 Tanzanian Shillings daily to cater for their meals. The allowance, an increase from the previous 8, 500 shillings, was announced in Parliament Dodoma, on the 5th of April 2023, by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa while delivering budgetary estimations for his office for the 2023/24 financial year.

 

The Samia Scholarship has also helped the government provide money to female students, numbering 244, who excelled in the form six examinations and are admitted to study courses in the disciplines of engineering, medicine, technology, and mathematics. “The government has also continued to provide loans, increase the scope of access to higher education loans, and at the same time improve the higher education institution infrastructure in the year 2022/23, Sh654 billion was allocated for student loans, an increase from Sh570 billion which was allocated in 2021/22, with a number of beneficiaries increasing from 177,605 in 2021/22 to 202,877 in 2022/23,” Prime Minister Majaliwa said.

             

To cushion the burden of some students who may skip meals due to financial constraints, consequently losing concentration in school or left with the option of running indecent enterprises so as to survive, a leader of the Tanzania Higher Learning Institutions Students’ Organization (Tahliso), Mr Frank Mkinda, on the 11th of February, called on the government to increase the amount: “Due to the rising cost of living, we kindly ask for your consideration by raising the daily allowances to at least Sh10, 000 or more.”  Mkinda had made this request in a meeting, at the State House Dodoma, between the students’ organization and the first female President of Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu Hassan. She declared that the stipend would improve; she directed the minister of education to commence work on the subject.

           

The President said, “I understand that one has to survive on a single meal when he or she finishes his or her daily food allowance. I will start with at least Sh10,000. So, the minister for education will work on the matter, come next academic year.”

 

IFC INVESTS IN ALLEYROAD IN DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECT

  • IFC has announced an investment to support South African residential property developer, Alleyroad in order to improve access to affordable housing.

 

  • The project will help reduce the housing gap in Johannesburg’s affordable housing market.

 

  • The apartments will be designed to meet IFC’s EDGE Advanced green building standards.

 

IFC has announced an investment to support South African residential property developer, Alleyroads, to build over 1,000 rental apartment units in the Johannesburg area in order to improve access to affordable sustainable residential housing in South Africa.

 

 

The 325 million South African rand loan granted to Alleyroads will help the company finance construction of the apartments, which are aimed at lower-to-middle-income households with an average annual salary of about ZAR238,000. The apartments will consist of two bedrooms with an average size of 62m², and will be built near hospitals, schools, and markets, and will provide green spaces and play areas for children.

 

 

This project will help reduce the housing gap in Johannesburg’s affordable housing market, which faces a significant shortage, particularly in the ZAR4,000 to 6,000 per month rental segment. It will support economic activity by creating 860 jobs during the construction phase, and 45 jobs during the operating phase. Project completion is scheduled for 2023.

 

 

The Managing Director of the Alleyroads Group, Ivan Pretorius said, “The Group is extremely thankful to IFC for having the confidence in our ability to deliver these much-needed housing units to this sector of the residential market. The team is ready to roll up their sleeves and ensure the timely delivery of excellent quality units,” 

The IFC Country Manager for South Africa, Adamou Labara said, “Affordable rental housing is essential for improving quality of life in South Africa, particularly for younger people and those that do not qualify for or cannot afford a mortgage. IFC’s investment in Alleyroads will improve access to good-quality, affordable residential housing in South Africa, which is positively linked to social benefits like better education and health outcomes.

 

 

The apartments will be designed to meet IFC’s EDGE Advanced green building standards, this means they will be zero carbon ready and among the first residential units to achieve such a high resource efficiency in sub-Saharan Africa. Alleyroads will install on-site solar panels to supply about 30 percent of the development’s energy needs.

 

 

Since its establishment in 2009, Alleyroads has become a leading affordable housing developer in the build-to-rent and green building spaces. The company is helping South Africa meet the rising demand for affordable rental housing, which is driven by population growth and rapid urbanization. 

 

 

“The transaction represents a significant milestone in the evolution of the Alleyroads Group and signals the intention of the company to be one of the pre-eminent leaders in the affordable residential housing market. We look forward to a continued partnership with Alleyroads and IFC”, said Mesh Pillay, Chief Executive of YW Capital, exclusive advisor to Alleyroads.

 

 

 

Alleyroads is a locally owned level 2 black economic empowerment (BEE) company. IFC is committed to supporting the government of South Africa’s economic transformation agenda and increasing the financial participation of historically disadvantaged citizens.

 

 

As part of its support to South Africa’s housing market, IFC is working with partners in the country to improve access to affordable housing and student accommodation.

Ethiopia, Djibouti Agree to Complete Road Links.

  • The completion of the road will boost transportation between the two countries.

 

  • The agreement guarantees that the Galamo-Moloud road will be completed within a year.

 

 

An agreement has been reached between Ethiopia and Djibouti on completing a road that will link both countries. A 35-kilometer road between Galamo and Moloud will enable the smooth circulation of vehicles and cargo, boosting transportation between the two countries. 

 

 

 

The deal was achieved in February during Alemu Simie’s (PhD), Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics, visit and meeting with Ismail Omar Guelleh, the President of Djibouti. Alemu Simie is currently in Djibouti to supervise the agreement’s execution.

 

 

In order to expedite road construction, Alemu Simie met with Abubakar Omar Hadi, President of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, and his team.

 

 

 

The agreement guarantees that the 35-kilometer Galamo-Moloud road will be finished within a year and that the Ethiopian Construction Works Company (ECWC)

 will get the necessary payment.

 

 

Also, from March 20–23, 2023, a delegation from the Ethiopian Customs Commission under the direction of Commissioner Debele Kabeta paid an official visit to Djibouti. They met with their colleagues in Djibouti’s customs authority to discuss various customs-related issues.

 

 

 

The customs officials talked about a number of issues relating to customs, including HS Codification, Custom Values, TIN Number Guarantee, Ethiopian Bill of Loadings, Facilitation of Train Processes, Export Procedures, and Regional COMESA Transport Guarantee Bonds (RCTG). An agreed-upon minute was signed to offer suggestions to boost customs efficiency after three days of negotiations.

 

 

 

These recent events show that Ethiopia and Djibouti are committed to cooperating to improve trade and transportation, including the agreement on the Galamo-Moloud road and the resolution of customs-related issues.

KENYA TO BENEFIT FROM HOSTING SUMMIT.

The climate action summit is scheduled from September 4th to September 6th in Nairobi. This summit intends to advance a green economic upswing and green industrial revolution and foster agreement on critical climate problems. It also seeks to encourage enhanced financial support for climate action in Africa and make the most of already established continental platforms like the African Continental Free Trade Area. This gathering will unite world leaders to discuss crucial climate change-related concerns. The decision for Kenya to host was decided during the 2023 African Union Summit held last month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President William Ruto made the announcement.

 

 

Currently, President Ruto is the leader of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change. For Kenya, hosting the summit is more than just the prestige, it offers them the unique chance to highlight the nation’s initiatives to address climate change and promote sustainable development. It will put the nation at the forefront of discussions about the financing of climate action.  The country, viewed as one of the leaders in combating climate change, has accomplished a big deal in climate change response and its standing and influence globally are anticipated to grow as a result.

 

 

This will also allow Kenya to showcase its successes in putting sustainability policies and practices to the test, which the country has already achieved considerable advancements in this area. There have been programs like Climate Smart Agriculture and the ambitious National Climate Change Action Plan.

 

 

Its ability to host the summit will strengthen its position as a leader in the battle against climate change while highlighting its dedication to building a sustainable future.

 

 

 

The summit will provide decision-makers such as governments and the private sector with a platform to discuss important climate change-related topics like loss and damage, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and switching to a low-carbon economy. 

 

 

Kenya will play a significant role in these debates given its experience coping with the implications of climate change in areas like agriculture, water resources, and wildlife conservation. President Ruto has already mentioned the need for African countries to join the call for reforms in the inequitable and inadequate global economic and financial system. The summit may also draw new investments in green technologies and clean energy, which will lead to new jobs and promote Kenya’s sustainable development objectives.

 

 

Additionally, delegates worldwide will require accommodation, transportation, and other services during their stay. Therefore, the event is anticipated to boost the nation’s economy.  Overall, the summit presents a unique opportunity for Kenya and the Global South to lead the way in climate action and forge innovative partnerships with the private sector. This can boost the country’s economy through new investments in green technologies and clean energy. 

 

AFRICA CDC LAUNCHES SCIENCE PROGRAM.

  • The Africa CDC launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics and Bioinformatics Fellowship Program.
  • The fellowship program aims to support technical experts and future leaders in public health pathogen genomics and bioinformatics in Africa.
  • The call for the application for the fellowship program ended on 03 April 2023 for the first cohort of 25 fellows.

On the 23rd of March, 2023, the Africa CDC launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics and Bioinformatics Fellowship Program, a continental workforce development program targeting public health laboratories in the African Union Member States to improve the use of pathogen genomic data for outbreak detection and disease surveillance.

In recent times, Africa CDC through the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) has led the implementation of capacity-building initiatives for pathogen genomics sequencing including an aggressive training agenda through short courses on SARS-COV-2 sequencing and data analytics. 

As a result of this effort, most Member States have now in-country sequencing capacity, and with continued support, they are ready to apply genome sequencing for the surveillance of priority diseases in Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic not only fast-tracked the adoption of pathogen genomics to inform public health decision-making in Africa but has also highlighted the need for a well-trained workforce to realize the power of next-generation sequencing for other public health functions. They have subsequently built on existing efforts to further expand genomics capacity beyond COVID-19. In partnership with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine and regional centers of excellence, the Africa CDC has developed and launched the Africa PGI Pathogen Genomics and Bioinformatics Fellowship Program.

Dr. Ahmed Ogwell, Acting Director General of the Africa CDC said, “Africa continues to face a growing risk of infectious disease outbreaks. The recent Ebola, Cholera, Marburg, and other outbreaks highlight the urgent need for effective implementation and utilization of pathogen genomics across Africa. It is imperative to strengthen African public health institutions through capacity building and workforce development as the major pillars of the New Public Health Order. This fellowship program is a step forward in our effort to leapfrog outbreak detection and disease surveillance in Africa.”

Nqobile Ndlovu, Chief Executive Officer of ASLM, backed this up by saying, “The public health benefits of next-generation sequencing can only be realized through a well-trained workforce. We are very excited to partner with the Africa CDC in capacity and capability building for pathogen genomics and bioinformatics in Africa.”

This program has three tracks; a wet-lab track (Next-Generation Sequencing of Pathogens), a dry-lab track (Public health bioinformatics data analytics, interpretation, and reporting), and a track on genomic epidemiology to be included at a later stage. Overall, the fellowship program aims to support technical experts and future leaders in public health pathogen genomics and bioinformatics in Africa.

Throughout the fellowship, participants will be trained on core competencies with a focus on genomics and data analytics for outbreak detection, viral and bacterial disease surveillance, antimicrobial resistance, and malaria surveillance. The fellowship will also provide opportunities for alumni and institutional networks to foster future collaborations across Africa.

The call for the application for the fellowship program ended on 03 April 2023 for the first cohort of 25 fellows. Africa CDC welcomed applications from all qualified persons from all AU Member States. The fellowship program will prioritize women, youth, and those Member States with limited genomics and bioinformatics capacity.

KENYA SIGNS DEAL WITH SAUDI ARABIA, UAE.

  • Kenya has signed a deal with Saudi Arabia and UAE.
  • Kenya will be supplied with petroleum products with six months credit period.
  • This will remove the need for importers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars monthly.

Kenya has recently signed a deal with UAE’s ADNOC and Saudi Aramco. This deal implies that they will supply Kenya with petroleum products with six months credit period.

The objective of this move is to curb the demand for dollars that has weakened the local currency.

The deals were signed on Friday, and announced by the energy minister, Davis Chirchir on Monday at a news conference after the two firms were picked from seven bidders.

This deal also means that Kenya will buy oil with its local currency, Kenyan Shillings instead of the US Dollars. This will boost the strength of the local currency.

The East African nation is switching to a longer payment period from settlement to delivery to remove the need for importers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars monthly.

Although foreign currency traders have cast doubt on the ability of the plan to stem the pressure on the shilling currency, saying it merely amounts to a postponement of demand.

Some private petitioners at the High Court are also challenging the plan. The report says the court is expected to give its initial directions on the case on Tuesday.

 

KENYA, SPACE X TO LAUNCH FIRST EARTH OBSERVATION SATELLITE.

  • Kenya’s first operational 3U Earth Observation Satellite will take place in Vandenberg Base, California, UDA abroad Falcon-9 Rocket.
  •  The satellite will provide data for decision support to agriculture and food security, natural resources management, and environmental monitoring among other details.
  • This project will play a pivotal role in putting Kenya on the global map.

The Kenya Space Agency is set to launch Kenya’s first operational 3U Earth Observation Satellite, Taifa-1 satellite. The launch is scheduled for April 11, 2023, and will take place in Vandenberg Base, California, UDA abroad Falcon-9 Rocket. It is set to be aided by Space exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX).

According to the Ministry of Defence and KSA, the mission is designed to provide precise and timely earth observation satellite data to stakeholders in the diverse fields of application including agriculture and food security. It will provide data for decision support for agriculture and food security, natural resources management, and environmental monitoring among other details. The objective of this mission will also be to “develop Kenya’s technical capacity on the whole value chain of space technology development and applications.” 

The acting director of KSA Brig Hillary Kipkosey believes that this mission will play a pivotal role in putting Kenya on the global map because it contributes significantly to the growth of satellite development, data analysis, and processing and development of applications. He said, “Space is the next frontier in many ways and we are happy to be part of this. This is our moment of pride.” He also said that space science, technologies, and applications are vital enablers across all productive sectors of the national economy and that they are seeking to have capacity building on space systems engineering, space operations, data processing and analytics, Ground Station services, and operations. “We are looking at technology demonstrator on what capabilities or flexibilities we can realize with own/sovereign Earth observation asset.”

A team of Kenyan engineers has fully executed the construction and design of the satellite. The parts’ manufacturing and testing were done in collaboration with Endurosat AD, a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer. This is because it is expensive to construct it locally, officials said.

Kenya will have a nanosatellite to weigh one ton because it is cost-effective in development and launch, takes less development time between design and operation, and provides space solutions for many countries that may not be capable of launching large satellites.

It also enables faster advancement of space technology and is easy to launch constellations as multiple satellites can be established by one rocket. KSA said the launch mission is the product of a design and development process that has been conducted for over two years.

The Taifa-1 satellite is a huge milestone for Kenya’s space program and will potentially contribute significantly to spurring the growth of the satellite development, data analytics and processing, and applications development capabilities of Kenya’s budding space economy. It is the first stepping stone to developing what is planned to be a constellation of small earth observation satellites for Kenya. It is also a capacity-building effort for Kenya’s engineers in space systems engineering, space operations, ground receiver station operations, mission control, and satellite data acquisition and processing. The successful launch and function of the satellite will not only demonstrate Kenya’s technical capacity but also provide valuable data and information for various applications.

The KSA has invited partners and stakeholders to join in marking this important milestone and celebrating Kenya’s moment of national pride and space heritage.

Its primary objective was to build capacity in satellite development through the development of a complete space mission in Kenya. Kenya has been part of several globally significant milestones in space science and technology through the Malindi Space Centre (formerly the San Marco Project) jointly managed by the Italian Space Agency and the Kenya Space Agency. The Kenya Space Agency offers its services to both levels of government, National and County Governments. KSA is supporting National Government line ministries in developing the capacity to utilize space-derived data for decision support.

SOUTH AFRICA: NEW SCIENTIFIC INNOVATION TO BOOST ENERGY STORAGE.

 

A new indoor energy storage that was tested by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will strengthen South Africa’s ability to support local players in the battery value chain, which will then boost the country’s capabilities in renewable energy storage.

The collaboration falls within the ambit of an agreement between the CSIR and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.

The newly-established indoor energy storage test-bed equips the CSIR to test the performance and reliability of lithium-ion batteries, as expressed by their storage capacity, lifecycle and depth of discharge.

This will aid build capacity in the South African battery industry, as lower-capacity clients (small and medium-sized enterprises, manufacturers, and importers) will also have access to indoor test-bed facilities and the overall market knowledge can be improved.

VITO and the CSIR will focus on energy storage technology innovation and localization.

“The facility will provide much-needed testing for the country. It will be used as a service for technology developers or importers who would like to characterise their technologies for market entry,” explained CSIR Energy Storage Testbed Project leader Renesh Thakoordeen.

He said the facility was also a stepping stone towards addressing the intermittency challenge of renewable energy.

“Many businesses and residential homeowners are turning to solar power and batteries to secure their energy supply. But ensuring the quality of such systems is key. The test-bed will assist in creating the standards for lithium-ion batteries in South Africa,” he continued.

CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini expressed the organisation’s appreciation for the level of collaboration and scientific support it received from the Government of Flanders in Belgium and its research institutions.

“The facility brings hope for sustainable energy and a secure energy future. How we store energy is at the heart of the successful use of renewable resources such as solar and wind. A developing country such as South Africa has to think of technologies that offer long-duration storage, have low operational and maintenance requirements, and can withstand harsh climatic conditions,” said Dlamini.

The facility is equipped with a high-precision system for battery module and pack tests. It has many channels to test numerous batteries in parallel under dissimilar test cycles. It also has a new generation temperature chamber to provide data on the operating behaviour of batteries used in harsh climates – which will impact optimal performance.

The harsh temperatures in the Northern Cape, for example, can affect batteries in mine machinery and vehicles. The test-bed will provide valuable data on the batteries running these machines, enabling the mine to extend machine battery life and provide a safe operating zone.

VITO Energy Technology Project manager Carlo Mol said the energy storage test-bed was the first step towards a broader cooperation between CSIR and VITO.

“The CSIR and VITO started their intense co-operation at the end of 2020, thanks to the financial support of the Government of Flanders for the indoor energy storage test-bed. The project funding enabled us to make investments in high-tech equipment for testing batteries in South Africa and build local capacity beyond this. It also gives the CSIR and VITO the opportunity to share knowledge on sustainable energy storage solutions for the benefit of South African stakeholders.

We are looking forward to future collaborations as the CSIR and VITO signed a memorandum of understanding in April 2022 to extend their research and innovation cooperation towards a broad range of sustainable technologies.”