Zimbabwe lifts curfew, says COVID-19 under control

By XINHUA

People wear mask to protect themselves from Omicron variant of coronavirus in Harare, Zimbabwe on November 28, 2021. (Photo via Getty Images)

The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday lifted a midnight-to-dawn curfew imposed as part of COVID-19 containment measures.

The number of new COVID-19 cases continued to decrease over the past week while the recovery rate stood at 97 percent, acting Information Minister Jenfan Muswere told a post-cabinet media briefing.

“No patients were admitted to the intensive care unit (over the past week). This indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic remains under control, as it has been for some months now,” he said.

The Cabinet stressed that the implementation of all COVID-19 public health and social measures must continue to be strengthened.

Muswere said as of Monday, 55.7 percent of the population had received vaccinations. The Cabinet last week approved the introduction of COVID-19 self-test kits mainly at ports of entry in order to ramp up the country’s testing capacity.

African Development Bank chief announces set up of youth investment banks

By XINHUA

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is setting up youth entrepreneurship investment banks that will help grow youth-based wealth for Africa’s young population, the bank’s president, Akinwumi Adesina, announced Tuesday.

The banks, to be rolled out by the end of this month, will act as new financial institutions that create ecosystems of support around businesses of young people, by financing their businesses in a lifecycle model from technical assistance, to debt and equity financing, Adesina said, while speaking at the 2022 Commonwealth Business Forum in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali.

“For Africa and all Commonwealth countries, the real issue is we have to create youth-based wealth. To be able to support young people, we have to prioritize them in our financing. We are creating Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks that will support the business of young people,” said Adesina.

“I don’t believe that the future of African youth lies in Europe… We must create quality, decent jobs for young people. The common future must be the future of the youth so we have to make sure we build the Commonwealth for the youth,” he added.

He stressed the need for youth access to quality education and skills training for jobs of the future. Adesina also advised young people to embrace agriculture.

The Commonwealth Business Forum drew about 1,500 delegates from Commonwealth member states governments.

The three-day forum is to address the CHOGM theme – ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, with a focus on “A Global Reset,” dealing with the impact of the pandemic and the Commonwealth’s role in rebuilding and reinvigorating the global economy.

The forum is one of a series of events taking place on the second day of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which runs from June 20 to 25.

Competition opens for Africa’s young agritech entrepreneurs and start ups

By CGTN Africa

Young technology innovators in Africa’s agriculture and food sectors are being urged to participate in an upcoming competition aimed at developing ideas that could help solve food security problems in Africa.

Pitch AgriHack, co-sponsored by African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), Heifer International and Generation Africa identifies innovative youth-led businesses with technological solutions to food security challenges, awarding the most impactful businesses with cash grants, media visibility and investor exposure.

The competition is open to African founders or co-founders, aged 18 to 40, of technology-based and digital services businesses in the agriculture sector are eligible to enter.  Six winners in three different categories will walk away with a share of 45,000 U.S. dollars in prize money.

A drone hovers over a field. /IndustryEurope-Niametrics

Pitch AgriHack is in its second year. And projects that addressed farm equipment manufacturing, agricultural drone services for precision farming, data and analytics providers, mobile apps, online crowdfunding and finance platforms, e-commerce and logistics services highlighted the 2021 competition.

“Pitch AgriHack is about promoting digital jobs and smart technologies that appeal to the youth,” says Dickson Naftali, head of Generation Africa.

“This competition calls on the innovative minds of Africa to empower themselves and their communities by harnessing and developing ground-breaking technologies in the agrifood sector.

“We see a bright future on the horizon for the youth of Africa. Generation Africa, with the help of its partners like Heifer International, is working tirelessly to smooth out the obstacles that have traditionally prevented young people from embracing opportunities in the agriculture and food value chain.”

Dr Agnes Kalibata, president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), says the youth of Africa have a crucial role to play in the continent’s food and farming future. Kalibata described Pitch AgriHack as a wonderful initiative that awards youth-led innovative agricultural businesses.

“At the intersection of technology and agriculture, new innovations have the capacity to enable and uplift smallholder farmers, and drive agricultural transformation across Africa.”

Applicants can register now through July 29.

The top 12 applicants will face off in a business pitching contest at the AGRF summit in September in Nairobi, Kenya. Finalists will also participate in the AGRF Agribusiness deal room, where over 800 companies, 15 government delegations and 150 public and private investors will convene to generate new opportunities.

An additional invite-only category, known as the AYuTe Africa Challenge, sponsored by Heifer International, will award up to 1.5 million U.S. dollars in grants to scalable ventures that are already generating measurable impact for Africa’s smallholder farmers.

Story compiled with assistance from ITweb

South Africa’s economic activity bounces back strongly from floods

By CGTN Africa

A gauge measuring South African economic activity bounced back strongly in May after the worst flooding in almost three decades left more than 400 people dead, damaged businesses and halted operations at the country’s biggest port the previous month.

FILE PHOTO – Residents of Umlazi township stand over a bridge and watch containers that fell over at a container storage facility following heavy rains and winds in Durban, on April 12, 2022. /Phill Magakoe

The BankservAfrica Economic Transactions Index, (BETI) which monitors interbank payments, rose to 143.5 in May from a revised 137.6 in April. That suggests a robust recovery of Africa’s most-industrialised economy, which was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The May data suggests a continuation of strong first-quarter growth, “which would be an encouraging outcome for an economy in dire need of sustained growth,” independent economist Elize Kruger said in an emailed statement from the automated clearing house.

Still, South Africa has the world’s highest unemployment rate, and tightening global financial conditions due to higher-than-expected inflation and choked supply-chains stemming from China’s targeted COVID-19 lockdowns, extreme weather and the war in Ukraine are risks to the domestic growth outlook. The central bank lowered its 2022 expansion forecast to 1.7 percent from 2 percent last month.

BETI is an early economic scorecard for South Africa in terms of growth trends and correlates closely with the central bank’s co-incident indicator and the gross domestic product data.

Original article published by Bloomberg Africa

Egypt spends nearly $500 billion on infrastructure projects in 7 years

By XINHUA

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said on Thursday that the country has spent nearly 500 billion U.S. dollars on infrastructure projects in the past seven years.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. /CFP Photo

“Adequate infrastructure is the key for development and luring investments,” Sisi said in a televised speech during one of the sessions of the 2022 African Export-Import Bank’s 29th Annual Meetings held in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital east of Cairo.

However, what has been implemented so far only covers 10 percent to 12 percent of Egypt’s total territory of 1 million square km, according to the president.

African countries have enormous agricultural potential but lack the infrastructure to manage their natural resources, Sisi said, urging global major banks to provide loans for Africa to upgrade its infrastructure for development projects.

WTO agrees to lift COVID vaccine patents

By AFP

World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (C) delivers her speech during the closing session of a World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference at the WTO headquarters in Geneva on early June 17, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The World Trade Organization agreed Friday to temporarily lift patents on COVID-19 vaccines after two years of bruising negotiations, but experts expressed skepticism that the deal will have a major impact on global vaccination inequality.

The unprecedented agreement, sealed by all 164 WTO members after late-night overtime talks, will grant developing countries the right to produce COVID vaccines for five years “without the consent of the right holder”.

Since October 2020, South Africa and India have called for intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines to be temporarily lifted so they can boost production to address the gaping inequality in access between rich and poor nations.

But Friday’s compromise fell short of their earlier requests that the waiver applies to all countries, and also cover COVID tests and treatments.

Under the terms of the new deal, WTO members have six months to decide on whether to extend the measures “to cover the production and supply of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics”.

“This does not correspond to the initial request,” said Jerome Martin, the co-founder of the Drug Policy Transparency Observatory, pointing to the fact that the deal only includes developing countries.

“We have to see what it does in the field, but it is not ambitious at all,” he told AFP.

South Africa’s Stormers beat the Bulls to be crowned inaugural URC champions

By David Ochieng Mbewa

South African rugby side DHL Stormers defeated local rivals the Vodacom Bulls 18-13 in the United Rugby Championship (URC) Grand Final at the DHL Stadium on Saturday to be crowned winners of the tournament’s inaugural season.

Fly-half Manie Libbok, the Stormers’ hero in the semifinal against Ulster, kicked eight points as his side recovered from being 3-7 down at halftime to win a tense finale at their home ground.

DHL Stormers players celebrate with the trophy after defeating the Vodacom Bulls in the United Rugby Championsip[ Grand final at DHL Stadium in Cape Town. /TWITTER/DHL Stormers

Centre Harold Vorster crossed over for a try, in just the second minute, which was converted by Chris Smith to give the Bulls a 7-0 lead but Libbok cut the gap to four with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Smith restored the Bulls’ seven-point lead with a penalty shortly after the restart but the Bulls leveled the game through Evan Roos’ converted try.

A try by Andre-Hugo Venter in the 56th minute saw the Stormers lead the game for the first time before Smith kicked a three-pointer to reduce the home side’s lead to just two points.

However, Libbok kicked a drop-goal to restore the five-point lead and the Stormers then held on for a memorable win as the Bulls struggled to maintain their forward dominance.

It was the Stormers’ 11th consecutive win in the competition and saw them exact revenge on the Bulls for their defeat in their only final in Super Rugby in 2010.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

WHO: Eight African countries among 39 nations to have reported monkeypox cases

By David Ochieng Mbewa

Eight African countries are among 39 nations globally that have reported a total of 1,900 confirmed cases of monkeypox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti on Saturday said that six out of the eight countries have previously reported cases of the viral disease.

FILE PHOTO: An electron microscopic (EM) image depicting a monkeypox virion, obtained from a clinical sample. /CFP

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, accounts for most of the cases with 36, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo with 10 and eight in Central African Republic. Benin and Cameroon have reported three cases each and the Republic of Congo has reported two confirmed cases.

The two countries which have no history of recorded cases are Ghana and Morocco and have reported five cases and one case, respectively.

Additionally, there are seven countries which have reported suspected cases of monkeypox despite having previously not having any incidences. They are: Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda.

“This is clearly an unusual situation that is affecting more and more countries,” Moeti said, adding that better preparations needed to be in place for the continent to avoid the inequalities experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“As WHO in Africa, we are already ramping up support to countries to urgently increase testing capacity for monkeypox and are in the process of procuring thousands of tests for the continent.”

Moeti said that a newer and safer smallpox vaccine had been approved for the prevention of monkeypox but the UN health agency was not recommending mass vaccination at the moment.

Moeti, however, cautioned that the continent must to be ready to act should the need arise.

“Global stocks are extremely limited at this stage but we are working closely with member states and partners on a coordination mechanism to ensure fair access to both vaccines and treatment.”

Moeti’s warning comes days before the WHO convenes an Emergency Committee to advise on whether the current spread of monkeypox in non-endemic countries constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

AFRICA“Our Africa by Merck Foundation” Ninth Episode now on KTN, NTV, and Social Media

ByNNN

NNNMerck Foundation (https://Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany launched the 9th episode of its TV show “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” on Saturday, June 11, 2022 on KTNKenya, on repeat on Wednesday and Sunday June 12 on NTVUganda, repeated on Thursday. The TV show is also broadcast on GH One TV in Ghana, every Sunday, repeats every Monday, and repeats on Mondays at 2pm.

The ninth episode of “Our Africa from the Merck Foundation” addresses an important topic of “Stop Gender Based Violence (GBV)”, the impact of this issue on communities and the need to address this issue. Previous episodes of the show have addressed the importance of early detection and prevention of diabetes, breaking the stigma of infertility, supporting girls’ education, promoting a healthy lifestyle, ending female genital mutilation (FGM) , coronavirus health awareness and sustainability and recycled fashion. respectively. The TV show has received rave reviews from viewers in all three countries and from social media followers in Africa and beyond.

Watch the Ninth Episode promo here: (https://bit.ly/3MUxgnO) Watch the Ninth Episode here: (https://bit.ly/3aVDI0r)

‘Our Africa by Merck Foundation’ is a pan-African television program conceptualized, produced, directed and co-hosted by Senator Dr. Rasha KelejCEO of the Merck Foundation, featuring African fashion designers, singers and leading experts from various domains with the goal of raising awareness and creating cultural change in Africa. The show is co-hosted by Brian Mulondo from Uganda.

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, Executive Director of the Merck Foundation said: “The response to the television program ‘Our Africa of the Merck Foundation’ has been very positive and overwhelming. I am very happy that the TV show was informative and entertaining at the same time. Now, we bring you the ninth episode that focuses on the theme of ‘Stop gender-based violence’. Gender-based violence is the most pervasive but least visible human rights violation in the world. Gender-based violence affects 1 in 3 women throughout their lives, worldwide.

“We address this sensitive topic through our ‘Fashion and Art with a Purpose’ community. I really admire art and fashion in Africa and I strongly believe that fashion and art should have a purpose beyond entertainment and looking good. They can help to be the voice of the voiceless and raise awareness in our communities. Through our program we want to reach out to youth and other members of urban and rural communities across the continent to address and raise awareness of a wide range of pressing health and social issues that are relevant to Africa, such as; Stop gender-based violence, break the stigma of infertility, end child marriage, support girls’ education, end female genital mutilation (FGM), promote a healthy lifestyle, prevent and control diabetes and coronavirus health awareness and more,” added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

The show airs on: The show airs on the following TV channels:

– Every Saturday at 5:30 pm (EAT) on KTNKenya; re-run Wednesday at 6:30am (EAT) – Every Sunday at 6:30pm (EAT) on NTV Uganda; broadcast Thursday at 4:00 pm (EAT) – Every Sunday at 2 pm on (GMT) GH One TV, Ghana; rerun Monday at 1:30 pm (GMT)

Watch the promotion of ‘Our Africa by the Merck Foundation’ here: (https://bit.ly/3NZZ4s)

While gender-based violence (GBV) is not a problem unique to Africa, there is no doubt that the magnitude of the problem persists more severely on the continent than in other parts of the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2013, 35% of women worldwide had experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. By contrast, 45.6% of women over the age of 15 in Africa have experienced the same.

This high incidence of gender-based violence in Africa can be correlated with low levels of education, exposure to violence elsewhere, patriarchal systems, attitudes that accept violence and gender inequality, and low access to information.

In societies where justice is rarely achieved, awareness of women’s rights is limited, and exposure to violence is constant, the task of reducing GBV remains paramount.

The ninth episode of “Our Africa by Merck Foundation” features GHONE TV TV host and style coach Nancy, who shared tips on how to use fashion to build confidence in women. The episode also featured talented young designers Gaone Mangogola from Botswana and Stephany – Lee Schmidt from Namibia, who shared their designs displaying STOP GBV messages.

Senator Dr. Rasha further emphasized: “We have also launched awards for media, fashion designers, filmmakers, musicians/singers, and potential new talents in these fields from African countries to address the sensitive issue of stopping gender-based violence, and also others. Topics such as Breaking the Stigma of Infertility, Supporting Girls’ Education, Empowering Women, Ending Child Marriage and/or Ending Female Genital Mutilation. We are organizing these pageants in association with my dear sisters, the African First Ladies. I am excited and eager to receive applications at submit@merck-foundation.com.”

“I am very excited to bring you all the upcoming episodes of the television show ‘OUR AFRICA by Merck Foundation.’ So stay tuned and get ready to get informed, stay healthy and be entertained!” concluded Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Watch Episode 1 here: (https://bit.ly/3Q8UPw0) Watch Episode 2 here: (https://bit.ly/39gGAoi) Watch Episode 3 here: (https://bit.ly/3NzWdG6 ) Watch Episode 4 here: (https://bit.ly/3NZst5s)Watch Episode 5 here: (https://bit.ly/3MyEeif)Watch Episode 6 here: (https://bit.ly/ 3mp8t0t)Watch episode 7 here: (https://bit.ly/3aFMHTh)Watch episode 8 here: (https://bit.ly/3b7Zs9J)

Egypt lifts COVID-19-related entry restrictions for travelers

By XINHUA

Egypt on Thursday lifted all COVID-19-related entry restrictions for all travelers, whether Egyptians or foreigners.

The pyramids at Giza, one of Egypt’s most popular tourist destinations. /Xinhua

The decision was made by Egypt’s Supreme Committee for the Management of the Epidemiology and Health Pandemic Crisis according to the pandemic conditions in Egypt and abroad, said Nader Saad, a spokesperson of the Egyptian cabinet, in a statement.

Nearly 86.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as 4.5 million booster shots, have been provided for the people, the statement said, adding that there are nearly 57.5 million doses in reserve to continue the vaccination campaign.

The statement said that 800 DNA reagents were distributed by the Egyptian health ministry to detect the monkeypox cases, and strict measures are taken to have veterinary quarantine for the animals coming from abroad.