Tanzania to offer alternative education for school dropouts including pregnant girls- Official

By Reuters

Secondary school drop-outs in Tanzania will be offered the opportunity to resume studies in alternative colleges, the government said on Tuesday, part of a shift away from a disputed policy under which pregnant girls were expelled from school.

Such expulsions had increased under the tenure of maverick President John Magufuli, who died in March, according to rights groups who accused his government of discriminating against female students based on a policy that dated back to 1961.

“We are offering an alternative path to education to all children who missed their education for any reason, including those girls who got pregnant while in school, through our Folk Development Colleges (FDCs),” Leonard Akwilapo, a senior official at the Ministry of Education, told Reuters by phone.

New President Samia Suluhu Hassan, who was Magufuli’s deputy, has acted quickly to reverse some of his most controversial policies including his dismissal of the COVID-19 pandemic as a supposed hoax and conspiracy.

Last month, she stressed the importance of Tanzanians wearing face masks against the virus. Last week, the World Health Organisation said Tanzania was working to join the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility, which Magufuli boycotted.

Tanzania is one of only four African nations that have not begun vaccinating their people against COVID-19.

Regarding the new schools policy, Akwilapo said the education ministry wants all 54 of its FDC colleges to be able by January next year to provide secondary education to former school dropouts keen to resume their studies.

He said the move was part of Tanzania’s implementation of a $500 million World Bank project launched last year that aims to broaden access to education.

Around 5,500 girls drop out of school per year in Tanzania due to pregnancy, according to the World Bank.

Asked when pregnant girls who were forced to drop out will be allowed to return to mainstream schools, Akwilapo said a decision will be announced after an analysis is completed. He did not say how long the analysis would take.

The World Bank said it had dedicated two-thirds of the project’s funds to better and safer learning environments for girls who face greater barriers to learning than boys in many developing countries.

Nigerian President gets second AstraZeneca jab

By Grace Kuria

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria on Saturday received his second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine, at State House, Abuja.

Nigeria’s President Buhari gets second AstraZeneca jab
Source: Presidency Nigeria

Buhari received the second dose exactly 12 weeks after the first shot was taken on March 6.

The President’s inoculation was done by the Chief Personal Physician to the President, Dr. Suhayb Rafindadi Sanusi.

He was then presented with the e-vaccination card by the executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.

Nigeria’s President Buhari presented with the e-vaccination card after receiving second AstraZeneca jab
Source: Presidency Nigeria

As at May 28, a total of 1,950,298 Nigerians have been vaccinated with first dose, while 33,944 of Nigerians vaccinated with the first dose have received their second jab.

The country has thus far recorded 166,073 positive coronavirus cases and 2,071 deaths.

Series of earthquakes on DR Congo-Rwanda border stoke fears of second volcanic eruption


A series of earthquakes on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda have stoked fears that the Nyiragongo volcano close to the area would erupt again three days after the first eruption.

A lava lake seen from the top of the main crater of Mount Nyiragongo. The Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 metres in the Virunga National Park, about 20 km north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu. (Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The volcano started to erupt on Saturday, spewing lava that headed towards the border with Rwanda, and stopped on Sunday morning, leaving dozens of people killed and thousands displaced.

Here is a timeline of the Nyiragongo volcano eruption:

May 26:

— An earthquake on the border of Congo and Rwanda on Tuesday — measured 5.3 magnitude by the Rwandan Seismic Monitor and the strongest of more than 100 tremors that have followed Saturday’s eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano — destroyed several buildings in the DR Congo’s eastern city of Goma.

— A series of earthquakes hit western Rwanda’s Rubavu district that borders eastern DR Congo, following the Nyiragongo volcano’s eruption on Saturday, causing major cracks in residential and commercial houses, schools and several murram and tarmac roads, Gilbert Habyarimana, mayor of Rwanda’s Rubavu district, told Xinhua.

May 25:

— The death toll linked to the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo volcano in the northeastern province of North Kivu of the DR Congo rose to 32 and is likely to further rise, the DR Congo authorities said.

— Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the loss of life saddened the UN chief and that Guterres expressed his deepest sympathies to the government and people of the DR Congo.

May 24:

— DR Congo Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said 15 people were killed while fleeing the threats of lava.

— Rwanda’s Emergency Management Ministry said thousands of residents from the DR Congo seeking refuge in Rwanda were on their way back home.

May 23:

— A lava flow reached the airport of the DR Congo’s eastern city of Goma after the eruption of the nearby Mount Nyiragongo volcano. Authorities announced evacuation plans.

— Around 3,000 people fled Goma for neighboring Rwanda as the city was illuminated with orange flames.

— Gilbert Habyarimana, mayor of Rwanda’s Rubavu district, which borders eastern DR Congo, called upon its residents to stay calm.

— The lava flow stopped at around 4 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on the outskirts of Goma,

— Habyarimana said residents who fled to Rwanda started returning home while some were still in Rwanda.

May 22:

— The Nyiragongo volcano burst into activity at around 7 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).

Kenyan tech hub inspires women, youth into STEM careers

By Jerry Omondi

Azron Brian, a Software Engineer & Lead Trainer at EldoHub, explains a concept to a student during a Web Development class in Eldoret, Kenya. /CGTN

Across the world, governments have initiated various efforts to ensure women and youth are not left behind in technological advancements, as science and innovation increasingly become the focus of the future.

According to the United Nations, the global community has over the past 15 years made a lot of effort in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science. Even with these, however, women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science.

In Kenya, an Eldoret-based tech hub is doing its bit in ensuring women and youth are at the center of technological advancements and innovations.

EldoHub is an I.C.T. and entrepreneurship innovation hub that targets women and youth, to provide them with skills-based training, working space and a platform to interact network with their peers and share ideas.

The hub aims to help create and grow young tech businesses, and help them survive in their early stage by providing them with the necessary support and also financial and technical services.

Magdalene Chepkemoi, the Founder & Executive Director of EldoHub, says her decision to start the hub was inspired by her own life. Having grown up in a rural setup where women are still restricted to various roles and career paths, she felt the need to create a path for them to compete better with their male counterparts.

“I grew up in the rural areas. And I remember when I was young, I really wanted to be a scientist. I wanted to be a computer scientist. And when I mentioned to my parents that I want to pursue a career in computer science, they really objected and some of the reasons I was given was because you know you are a woman and it’s really good for you to be a teacher or a nurse,” she says.

She stuck to her dreams despite the parental pressure and years later she has grown to become of the most notable names in the fields of science, innovation and technology.

Magdalene Chepkemoi, the Founder & Executive Director of EldoHub. /CGTN

One of the main programs at Eldohub is a ‘Women in STEM’ initiative, which encourages and supports women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and entrepreneurship.

Through this, women and girls are empowered to pursue technical careers.

Each day, Eldohub hosts tech lessons for women, helping them achieve their dreams of becoming part of Kenya’s science, innovation and technology fields.

“I have always loved math and logic and I also consider myself to be a creative person. So, coding and programming gave me a chance to combine those two things and also being able to offer solutions to problems that surrounded me. Technology offered an easy way to do that,” said Wanjiku Njoroge, a Web Development Student at EldoHub.

On her part, Purity Kosgei, a Web Development Student and Communications Officer at EldoHub, says her journey at the hub has been partly inspired by Chepkemoi’s own life journey.

“I have been here for about one year right now and I can say that my experience has been really great. It’s been awesome and I have learned so many things especially from my Director who even before I came to EldoHub I used to see her sometimes and she used to motivate me. I can say she is my mentor,” said Kosgei.

Now also a mentor to many women and girls across Kenya’s western region, Chepkemoi often organizes field classes, where ladies who cannot reach Eldoret are also able to benefit from the hub’s programs.

“It’s possible. If I did it, you can do it as well. If so-and-so can do it, you can do it, and no one should really discourage you from pursuing what you want to achieve,” she said.

According to U.N. data, less than 30 percent of researchers worldwide are women, and only around 30 percent of all women students select STEM-related fields in higher education. This translates to even fewer women in STEM-related workplaces, a tiny fraction of whom make it to management or leadership roles.

Wanjiku Njoroge (front), a Web Development Student at EldoHub, during one of the classes. /CGTN

According to Azron Brian, a Software Engineer & Lead Trainer at EldoHub, with continued efforts, this imbalance can be changed, and the result would help the world tap into women’s brains in the quest to ensure more technological advancements.

“Being on this kind of program where we are equipping girls with tech skills and anything to do with technology, mathematics, engineering and science, you’ll find that in years to come, the narrative will change,” said Brian. “We’ll either have equal representation or more women will come in – not necessarily to do away with the men – but we’ll have a good representation of women. The narrative will completely change. We will have more women, more girls pursuing such careers and doing well in the fields as well.”

For Chepkemoi, the future still holds much more. Even though she draws a lot of pride in Eldohub’s journey so far, she is keen to ensure even more success.

“We want to build EldoHub more like an education technology platform for them to learn full capacity building in terms of digital literacy, STEM education, entrepreneurship lessons and through the entrepreneurship lessons, we want to build an entrepreneurship development program where they can be able to be guided on how they can start and grow their business from ideation stage all the way to taking their products to the market,” she said.

Tourists and gorillas ‘safe’ after DRC volcano eruption


Images of the Bageni family in the gorilla sector of Virunga National Park, DRC. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images.)

Tourists who were near the crater when the Nyiragongo volcano in the Democratic Republic Congo erupted are safe, the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) said Sunday.

Nor were the rare mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park threatened by the eruption, the institute added.

“The tourists present yesterday at the crater are safe and sound”, the institute, which oversees the wildlife sanctuary, said on Twitter, without indicating their numbers or nationalities.

The park, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, covers 600,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of tropical rainforest that is notably home to the world’s biggest population of eastern lowland gorillas.

The Nyiragongo volcano, whose slopes dominate the city of Goma and Lake Kivu, erupted suddenly on Saturday night, sending thousands of residents fleeing in panic.

A vast river of molten lava came to a halt Sunday on the outskirts of Goma, sparing the city.

The Goma region is a zone of intense seismic activity, with six volcanos, including Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira, which rise to 3,470 and 3,058 meters (11,384 and 10,033 feet) respectively.

Eruptions are frequent, not just from the craters but from the sides of the volcanos.

Egypt receives raw materials to produce Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine


Egypt has received the first batch of the raw materials to manufacture China’s Sinovac vaccine, said the Chinese embassy in Egypt on Sunday.

Airport staff members unload the first batch of Chinese Sinovac vaccine raw materials from a plane at the Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Egypt, May 21, 2021. Egypt has received the first batch of the raw materials to manufacture China’s Sinovac vaccine, said the Chinese embassy in Egypt on Sunday. Along with the Sinovac raw materials, a new shipment of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines also arrived at the Cairo International Airport on Friday, according to a Chinese embassy’s statement. (Xinhua/Sui Xiankai)

Along with the Sinovac raw materials, a new shipment of China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines also arrived at the Cairo International Airport on Friday, according to a Chinese embassy’s statement.

Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed said on May 9 that Egypt will start locally producing Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in June, and the first 2 million doses will be produced at the plants of the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA).

The local end-product will be distributed to medical centers across Egypt in two months after being assessed by the Egyptian Drug Authority, said Zayed at a press conference at the airport.

“VACSERA will produce more than 5 million doses of Sinovac vaccine in two months, and 40 million doses within a year,” she said.

Zayed hailed the arrival of a new shipment of Sinopharm and raw materials of Sinovac vaccine as ushering in “a new chapter of bilateral ties,” and the best way to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

China has made remarkable contributions to Egypt’s diversification of vaccine sources and promoting the country’s economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, she stressed.

After meeting Egypt’s own needs, vaccines produced in Egypt will be exported to other countries in the Middle East and Africa to help fight the pandemic, said the Egyptian minister.

Vaccine cooperation has laid a good foundation for Egypt and China to expand medical and health cooperation, Zayed said, adding that the two countries will boost cooperation in medical technology transfer and strive for more results to benefit the two peoples.

The two countries’ joint efforts in fighting COVID-19 have not only deepened the traditional friendship and political mutual trust, but also set an example for the international community, Zayed noted.

For his part, Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang said that, as Egypt receives the Sinovac vaccine raw materials, it becomes the first country on the African continent to cooperate with China in producing the COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is very important for the early prevail over the pandemic not only in Egypt, but also in the whole African continent and the Arab region,” Liao said.

China calls on the international community to lend more hands to Africa through providing epidemic prevention materials, medicines, technology and funds to ensure the accessibility and affordability of vaccines, Liao said.

He reiterated that China has always been a staunch supporter of Africa in fighting the pandemic, an active participant in the continent’s development and revitalization, and a strong defender of peace and stability.

Egypt started in late January vaccinating the medical staff of governmental hospitals with a COVID-19 vaccine made by another leading Chinese drugmaker Sinopharm, which is the first vaccine approved by the Egyptian Drug Authority.

In early March, the most populous Arab country began to vaccinate elderly people and patients with chronic diseases against the highly infectious coronavirus.

So far, Egypt has reported 252,690 COVID-19 cases, including 14,670 deaths and 186,223 recoveries.

Konnect Project: Chinese company works to bridge digital divide between Africa, world

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Nestled in the heart of Githurai 44 estate, about 20 kilometers from the city centre of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, is a buzzing IT hub making waves within the community and beyond.

A photo of one of the three Konnect Hubs run by Ahadi Corporation on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. /CGTN/Samson Adeleke

The hub is owned and run by the Ahadi Corporation, a company founded by Tao Zhou in early 2018 with the aim of building the world’s largest last-mile Wi-Fi broadband network in Africa to deliver affordable internet services.

The target market is low and lower middle-income residents, who form a significant portion of the population and struggle to afford the high cost of internet services despite their desire to be part of the ever-expanding digital world.

Tao Zhou, the founder of Ahadi Corporation, poses for a photo at one of the Konnect Hubs on the outskirts of Nairobi. /CGTN/Samson Adeleke

Africa has extremely low 4G and fixed broadband penetration, exacerbated by the highest cost of network in the world. Mobile data usage per subscriber per month is only 0.8GB in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to the world average of 7.5GB. Consequently, the continent’s internet economy falls far behind the rest of the world despite a massive young population.

Zhou said after a painstaking process that took about two years, a solution was found and the project (Konnect Internet) took off in early 2020 in two areas: Githurai 44 and neighbouring Zimmerman.

The project has taken off well bringing in close to 45,000 users so far in both the densely-populated communities which roughly host at least 240,000 people.

“I am sure you are familiar with the internet services here, especially for the people around here, the affordability is the biggest problem. There are still so many young people using (data) bundles to get there and it is never satisfying,” Zhou told CGTN Africa.

“We have found a real practical solution that allows us to provide affordable and fast internet to dozens of thousands of people. This is just the beginning. I am proud we have taken the first step and there are many more to come.”

The tech-preneur said the issue of affordability and reliability of internet services came to the fore especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when several services and operations, like learning and certain office duties, moved online.

Signing up to Konnect Internet individuals pay Sh20 ($0.18) per hour, Sh70 ($0.65) daily, Sh350 ($3.23) weekly and between Sh1,000 ($9.24) and Sh2,000 ($18.47) every month to access the internet.

Zhou said the timely entry of the Konnect Project helped several households adapt to the situation and not be left behind as digital services took prominence for the better part of the last year or so.

“At the end of the day, it is not only the cost, it is also the flexibility of paying. Most of our clients are not monthly users, they are daily users. Many of them choose to pay Sh70 a day for, at least, 25 days out of 30,” he said.

Zhou, however, acknowledged that low prices should not deceive anyone about the quality of services offered as the internet speeds are quite fast of up to 8mbps per device.

The Konnect project, through Konnect Hub, offers services and professional working spaces for freelancers, creatives and the youth in general. /CGTN/Samson Adeleke

The Konnect Project hopes to complete coverage of 3,000 buildings in eight communities by the end of 2021, serving at least 200,000 residents, and, in the next five to six years, have a presence in the majority of Kenyan suburbs.

The next community they expect to connect is the neighbouring Githurai 45 estate which, according to Zhou’s estimate, has more people than Githurai 44 and Zimmerman.

“The internet economy of Africa is less than seven percent of the world market and the population of Africa is almost a fifth of the world population. Obviously, there is so much room (to grow) and that gives us a very strong reason to stay here and grow for many years,” Zhou said during an interview.

Powering Ahadi Corporation’s ambitious drive is China Telecom (Kenya) Limited, a strategic partner and primary internet backbone provider for the Konnect project.

Lambert Guo, director of China Telecom (Kenya) Limited (left) alongside Ahadi Corporation founder Tao Zhou (right) during a media presentation. /CGTN/Samson Adeleke

China Telecom has also helped the firm build local points of presence (POPs) or network connection points and local data centres.

According to Zhou, there is a plan “in the near future” to offer an internet-based TV service among others with the continued cooperation of China Telecom.

There are a few minor challenges facing the project, especially the occasional interruption of power supply, which is an issue countrywide, but Zhou said his team sought to address this problem.

“In our server room, even within the community, we have transmitters powered by UPS (uninterrupted power supply). The UPS can allow working to continue for six to eight hours and, if within that time, the power does not come back, we have generators.”

A group of transmitters mounted by Ahadi Corporation on the roof of a block of apartments in Githurai 44 estate on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. /CGTN/Samson Adeleke

“We also like to deploy solars which not only helps reduce the cost of electricity but also helps with the continuity. During the nighttime, we have batteries.”

The project has not only brought internet access to thousands of people but there have been other socioeconomic benefits to the communities.

Dozens of people have been employed, either permanently or on contract basis, to ensure the smooth running of the project and 24/7 onsite support.

“We need to employ about 20 field technicians doing the deployment work and another 20 sales agents who negotiate with the building owners, sign on new customers and provide customer service. That is a benefit,” he added.

The project has also seen the establishment of “value-added services”, namely, community and learning centres. The community centres, which are three and known as Konnect Hubs, are aimed at providing services and working spaces for freelancers, creatives and the youth in general at a small fee.

“We are putting a co-working space within the community so the young people do not need to spend extra money and struggle with traffic for a few hours a day to get to the other side (of the city),” Zhou noted.

Under the Konnect School program, volunteer teachers from China, the U.S. and Kenya, specializing in English literature and math, have been recruited and children, aged between four and 15, within the community have been invited to take online classes in a digital learning environment.

Though the program is less than three months old, it has proved to be quite popular with several parents making requests to sign up their children.

The Konnect School is a popular initiative by the Ahadi Corporation which offers a digital learning environment aided by volunteer teachers. /CGTN/Samson Adeleke

Ahadi also launched some programs to improve the good images of talents and communities. One of them is Project ASH (African Silences, Heard!), a series of short films collecting and sharing real stories from all walks of life in Africa which would ordinarily not be broadcast on mainstream media.

“At the end of the day, we are not just providing affordable internet but we are building a very basic service, the internet as a tool, to promote the opportunities on top of the infrastructure. The idea of ‘Konnect’ is not just connecting with the internet but connecting with people in the community and outside the community.

Just over 25M vaccine doses administered in Africa: WHO

By CGTN Africa

A man receives a vaccine for Covid-19 at the Police Hospital, Juba, South Sudan. (Photo by Andreea Campeanu/Getty Images)

So far Africa has administered just over 25 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines which are about 1.5 percent of the doses given worldwide, head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Saturday.

“And this is tragic,” Tedros said at a meeting of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on access to vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic for the African continent.

“In the past two weeks, we are seeing some progress … with a good number of countries committing to share and equitable distribution of vaccines, but vaccine nationalism still holds us back,” he added.

The WHO boss stated that the organization was working to bring immediate solutions for equitable distribution of the vaccine doses.

“At the same time, we cannot let down our guard. What is happening now in many other parts of the world can also happen in Africa,” he said.

According to Tedros,  the pandemic has shown that Africa cannot rely solely on imports of vaccines from the rest of the world.

“We must build that capacity, not only for COVID-19 vaccines but for other vaccines and medical products. But at the same time we have to focus on the immediate solution of vaccine sharing, as I said earlier, ” he added.

The African continent has recorded over 4.7 million COVID-19 cases with more than 4.2 recoveries and 126,000 deaths, according to the WHO tally.

WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said on Thursday that COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Africa slowed down in Maat due to the “reliance on India as one of the key manufactures globally and a devastating surge of infections in India.

According to the WHO, the African continent was expecting 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through the COVAX facility from February to May, but instead, it has so far received only 18.2 million doses, according to the WHO.

South Africa’s Western Cape moving toward 3rd wave of COVID-19: official


Passengers queue at the check-in area inside the departures terminal at Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa. Photographer: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Figures show that South Africa’s Western Cape Province, which hosts the legislative capital Cape Town, is moving toward the third wave of COVID-19, a provincial official said on Sunday.

The province located in the southwest end of the nation is currently facing a resurgence of the pandemic as it has seen increases in case numbers every day over the past 12 days, Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde said in a statement, while emphasizing the personal behavior in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 as the most important factor in slowing down the occurrence of the third wave, which could arrive in two to three weeks on the current trajectory.

He assured the public that the province is fully prepared for the surge in cases with a five-point plan, including changing community behaviors, surveillance and outbreak response.

Winde also said the province has enough beds, oxygen and staff to deal with the third wave.

Western Cape is one of the hardest-hit provinces in the pandemic in all nine provinces in South Africa. Saturday’s statistics showed that the Western Cape recorded 251 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial tally to 291,551, with 276,544 recoveries and 11,748 deaths.

Ethiopia’s COVID-19 cases near 269,000


Ethiopians are seen on the street as some Ethiopians use masks to protect against the coronavirus (Covid-19), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ethiopia has registered 381 new COVID-19 cases, taking the nationwide tally to 268,901 as of Saturday evening, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

The ministry said eight new deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 4,068.

The East African country reported 1,600 more recoveries, taking the national count to 227,080.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, has so far reported the largest number of COVID-19 cases in the East Africa region.

According to the ministry, Ethiopia currently has 37,751 active COVID-19 cases, of whom 513 are said to be under severe health conditions.

Figures from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Ethiopia’s COVID-19 cases accounted for about 6 percent of Africa’s total confirmed cases.