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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Over 14m adults malnourished, on the rise



Over 14.3 million women and men in the countries of Europe and Central Asia region are still malnourished according to the Food andAgriculture Organisation (FAO) latest study, reports NaijaAgroNet.

FAO said, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in Europeand Central Asia 2017, analyzes a range of food security and nutrition indicators to assess the countries’ progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture) by 2030. It appraises dietary energy supply, nutrition indicators such as stunting and wasting, anaemia, overweight and obesity, as well changing diets and their impact on different population groups.

After tremendous progress in recent years, the situation in the region now appears to be stagnant. The prevalence of undernourishment remained almost unchanged in the Caucasus and Central Asia according to the report which was presented at a Regional Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets.

“Poverty remains the single, most important obstacle to food security,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. “But there is a clear path forward. The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, provide a powerful framework for tackling the challenges faced by the countries of Europe and Central Asia.”

To better appraise the drivers and features of food insecurity in the region, FAO’s report includes the new Food InsecurityExperience Scale (FIES), which serves to complement the analysis of progress against Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) indicators on food security and nutrition. Providing more timely and comprehensive analysis, the new methodology shows that 14.3 million adults in the region suffered from severe food insecurity during the period 2014-16.

Yet, to fully assess the situation the nutrition data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) is key, the report noted. Malnutrition in one or more of its three main forms – undernutrition, overnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies – is present to varying degrees in all countries of the region, the report states.


“Often all three coexist, in what is called the ’triple burden’ of malnutrition,” said FAO senior policy officer Ariella Glinni, principal author of the report. “It is not unusual for countries to experience high rates of both child undernutrition and obesity. Micronutrient deficiencies and overnutrition in children, women and men have become two major food security and nutrition concerns across the region.”

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Precision agriculture market to reach €4.2 billion by 2021

A new research report from the M2M/IoT analyst firm, Berg Insight, has revealed that the global market for precision agriculture solutions is forecasted to grow from € 2.2 billion in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6 per cent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The report also revealed that with the CAGR of 13.6 per cent, its expected to reach about € 4.2 billion in 2021.

According to Berg Insight, a set of technologies are applied in precision farming practices, which are aimed at managing variations in the field to maximise yield, raise productivity and reduce consumption of agricultural inputs.

“While solutions such as auto-guidance and machine monitoring and control via on-board displays today are mainstream technologies in the agricultural industry, telematics and Variable Rate Technology (VRT) are still in the early stages of adoption. Interoperability between hardware and software solutions remains a challenge, although standardisation initiatives led by organisations such as Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation and AgGateway make progress,” part of the report read.

For them, the most major agricultural equipment manufacturers have today initiatives related to precision agriculture although strategies vary markedly. Leading vendors of precision agriculture solutions include the world’s largest manufacturer of agricultural equipment Deere & Company, followed by the US-based precision technology vendors Trimble, Topcon Positioning Systems, Raven Industries and Ag Leader Technology.

Hexagon further holds a strong position in the positioning segment through its subsidiary NovAtel. Major providers that specialise in data-oriented applications and agronomic services are the Monsanto subsidiary The Climate Corporation, Canada-based Farmers Edge and the newly formed DowDuPont with its Encirca services. A group of companies have furthermore emerged as leaders on the nascent market for in-field sensor systems. These include Davis Instruments, Pessl Instruments with its METOS brand, Semios, Hortau, AquaSpy and CropX.

“The traditional industry boundaries within the agricultural sector are slowly beginning to blur as agricultural equipment and precision farming solutions are becoming parts of broader systems”, said Fredrik Stålbrand, IoT Analyst, Berg Insight.
Partnerships and consolidation among agricultural equipment manufacturers and precision technology companies marked the theme of the last decade, but alliances are now expanding in scope among OEMs, input producers, software companies and agronomic services providers.
“The market is today evolving into a thicket of interlocking relationships that create complex competitive dynamics. Investments in APIs along with open IT architectures will be key to support the level of flexibility needed in the digital ecosystem that is emerging within the agricultural industry”, concluded Mr. Stålbrand.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

WECA left behind in global HIV response - UNICEF

After over four decades into the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic, four in five children living with HIV in West and Central Africa are still not receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy, NaijaAgroNet reports.
This is coming as AIDS-related deaths among adolescents aged 15-19 are on the rise, according to a new report released Tuesday by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

NaijaAgroNet also reports that while acknowledging progress in several areas, the report Step Up the Pace: Towards an AIDS-free generation in West and Central Africa, jointly published by UNICEF and UNAIDS, shows that West and Central Africa is lagging behind on nearly every measure of HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes for children and adolescents. In 2016, an estimated 60,000 children were newly infected with HIV in West and Central Africa.

Disclosing this to NaijaAgroNet, UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Director, Marie-Pierre Poirier, described as tragic that so many children and adolescents today are not receiving the treatment they need just because they have not been tested.

“We need to make better use of innovations to increase early diagnosis and improve access to HIV treatment and care for children. For example, the point-of-care technology diagnostic brings testing closer to where children attend health services and self-testing can be a good option for adolescents who may be more comfortable with it,” Poirier said.

The region’s coverage of life-saving antiretroviral therapy among children living with HIV, Poirier said, is the lowest in the world because many countries have limited capacity to perform the tests needed for early infant diagnosis of HIV. Without knowing a child’s HIV status, his or her family is less likely to seek the treatment that could prevent the tragedy of a child’s death from AIDS-related illnesses.

The situation is worse among adolescents. The annual number of new HIV infections among those aged 15–19 years in the region now exceeds that of children aged 0-14 years. These new infections occur mostly through unprotected sexual contact and among adolescent girls. Equally concerning, according to the report, is that West and Central Africa has recorded a 35 per cent increase in the annual number of AIDS-related deaths among adolescents aged 15-19 years — the only age group in which the number of AIDS-related deaths increased between 2010 and 2016.

With the region’s youth population expected to grow significantly within the coming decades, especially in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, the numbers of children and adolescents becoming infected with HIV and dying from AIDS is likely to remain high, unless the HIV response – both prevention and treatment – improves dramatically.

The report highlights that the 24 countries that make up the West and Central Africa region are home to 25 per cent of children aged 0–14 years living with HIV worldwide.

“Leaders of the region have endorsed a Catch-Up plan aiming to triple the number of people on treatment in the region – including children – by the end of 2018, the key issue now is to accelerate implementation,” said Luiz Loures, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director. 

“Countries should urgently put in place more effective strategies for early infant diagnosis of HIV, and start reducing inequity in children’s access to treatment.”

The report proposes key strategies that will enable countries to accelerate progress in curbing the spread of disease. These include:
1.    A differentiated HIV response focusing on unique epidemiological and local contexts in each country and community.
2.    The integration of HIV services into key social services including health, education and protection.
3.    Community ownership and local governance of the HIV response including working with families, better placed to help reduce stigma, access prevention and treatment.
4.    Investment in innovations to remove barriers to scale-up including new diagnostic and biomedical approaches such as point of care diagnostics, HIV self-testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis.


UNICEF announced last week that at the current pace of progress, the global 2020 Super-Fast-Track targets to end AIDS among children will not be achieved.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tutu fellows write AU, UN against Libya slave exploit

The Archbishop Tutu Fellows have written to the African Heads of State and the international private sector, Civil Society and multilateral organisations on its stand against the Libyan slave exploits, describing it as the ”great stain’ on African soil, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Mimi Kalinda of the African Communications Group of African Leadership Institute (AFLI) called on the leaders of private sector and civil society organisations, policy makers at the United Nations and the African Union and fellow Africans, saying that slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity.

They also said immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments, to put an end to this outrageous practice and hold responsible parties accountable.

AFLI equally said that there are three great stains on humanity; war, genocide and slavery.

They are the great stains not only because they are the fertile soil for many other debasing evils; they are Great Stains because they are assaults and crimes against humanity.

The prevalence of war, genocide and slavery historically, they said, is by no means the measure by which “we as humanity can accept such behavior as normative, then or now.”

Slavery, AFLI said, has spawned intergenerational social and economic disruption to the Continent of Africa and other areas; and has stolen the liberties and lives of people for the commoditization of their bodies against their will.

Further, they said, the slave trade is a crime against humanity, saying in part, “It is abhorrent to humanity. It is monstrous. It is an assault on the dignity of all.
Slavery can and must be stopped.”


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

AUC awards 13 institutions with GMES support

The African Union Commission (AUC) has awarded grants to thirteen consortia of institutions of higher learnings to serve as Regional Implementing Centres for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa) Support Programme, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The award ceremony, NaijaAgroNet gathered, would hold on the margins of the 5th AU-EU Summit in Abidjan, Cote d`Ivoire.

Also, NaijaAgroNet recalled that following a call for proposals in May 2017, a number of African institutions operating in the areas of water, natural resources, marine and coastal areas, applied for the GMES and Africa Support Programme Grants.

The Communications Officer, GMES & Africa at AUC, Mr. Adiatou Fattey in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet, noted that in order to evaluate the applications and select the most suitable consortia of institutions that submitted proposals, the African Union Commission instituted a committee supported by a team of assessors comprising African earth observation experts.

The 13 consortia of institutions were finally selected and the award marks the official announcement of their selection.

1. Central Africa: Agence Gabonaise d'Etudes et d'Observations Spatiale (AGEOS) and Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha (CICOS) for Water and natural resources service.

2. East Africa:

IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and Regional Centre for Mapping off Resources for Development (RCMRD) for Water and natural resources service
Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) for Marine and coastal areas service
3.North Africa:

National Authority for Remote Sensing & Space Sciences (NARSS) for marine and coastal area service
Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) for water and natural ressources service
4. Southern Africa:

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for marine and coastal areas service
Southern African Development Community Climate Services Centre (SADC-CSC) and Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) for water and natural resources service
5. West Africa

Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE) and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria (CSSTE-Obafemi) for water and natural resources service University of Ghana (UG) for Marine and coastal areas service.


At the award ceremony, the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Commission, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, felicitated the successful institutions on their selection, which she said was based on their experience and proven capacities. 

She implored them to deliver the goods, and promised the African Union Commission’s unflinching support.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Access Power, FMO open submission for $100,000 solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition

The Dutch development bank, FMO and Access Power, a leading developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, have jointly launched the 2018 FMO Access Power Solar 'Shark Tank' Competition, seeking submissions for a solar projects, while dangling US$100,000 grant, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The call for 2018 submission follows the successful completion of the first installment in 2016 at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference. The initiative is aimed at helping local solar power developers that require development support to make their innovative solar projects more impactful.

To be considered for the grant, NaijaAgroNet gathered that the proposed projects must be located in Asia, Africa or Latin America and be based on solar PV technology, in addition to meeting the capacity criterion of 10MW or more, and be at an advanced stage of development. Further, eligible projects should have an innovative or impactful angle to the project that could be developed with support of the grant.

Proposals, NaijaAgroNet also reports, will be screened and scored by a pre-selection committee assembled by FMO and Access Power, while the top four shortlisted will be invited to present their projects and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of a live audience on the 15th of February 2018 during the second edition of the 'Making Solar Bankable' conference, co-organized by FMO and Solarplaza in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 and 16 February.


“The winning project will be announced at the end of the session during the event,” the organisers disclosed, adding that the winner will receive a $100,000 grant towards the development costs of their project from FMO and Access Power.

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Two off grid projects to electrify rural communities in Nigeria

Nigerian rural communities are to benefit from two off grid projects, consisting of a partnership between Pan Africa Solar and BBOXX (PAS BBOXX), thus adding to the growing momentum of the off grid sector across Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The first project, NaijaAgroNet reports, is headed up by Pan Africa Solar, is an 80MW utility scale Photovoltaic Power Plant located in Katsina State, near the town of Kankia. The project focuses on a stable state in the north of the country, where – due to lack of available hydro resources and gas supply – renewables are the only long term sustainable option. The project will integrate panels mounted on tilting structures that track the path of the sun throughout the day, constructed on 210 hectares of land.

BBOXX is collaborating with Pan Africa Solar on a second project supplying the distributed energy service that is operating in Kano State, Northern Nigeria, with hopes to expand across the country.

BBOXX’s VP of Business Development, Anshul Patel shared his comments on the partnership and its plans:

“Pan Africa Solar is a dedicated team with a core understanding of the Nigerian market; a very exciting BBOXX partner in a much underserved market. Nigeria has 60 million people who lack access to electricity. To date, 2000 people have been impacted by our work in Kano, and the business is currently in the process of scaling its operations. The partnership between BBOXX and PAS is instrumental in leveraging expertise in the off-grid business combined with local market knowledge to successfully scale operations with a goal of electrifying 1 million people by 2020.”

EnergyNet launched the Off the Grid Club initiative in 2016 to provide a networking platform for off grid technology providers, financiers and regional leaders working in Africa’s off grid industry. The membership programme collaborates with partners such as the Shell Foundation, ElectriFi, Akon Lighting Africa and Solektra in developing and financing off grid projects to electrify rural communities in Africa.


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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

UCLG Africa climate task force makes a debut

The 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bonn, Germany from November 6 -17 2017, ended with the debut of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), reports NaijaAgroNet.
This, NaijaAgroNet reports provided the framework for the launch of the UCLG Africa (www.AfriqueLocale.org/en) Climate Task Force and the presentation of its members to the political authorities and the general public.

The official launch of the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force was held in Bonn on Tuesday November 14, 2017 under the chairmanship of His Excellency Mr. Barnabé Dassigli, Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance of Benin, Chairman of the Specialized Technical Committee N° 8 of the African Union, in the presence of representatives of the first institutions that volunteered to join the Task Force. 

These were notably:
•             The African Development Bank (AfDB), represented for this purpose by Ms. Louise Helen BROWN, Climate Change Task Manager, Coordinator of the AfDB Fund for Climate Change in Africa;
•             The West African Development Bank (BOAD), represented by Mr. Bio Sawe, Director of the  Environment and Climate Finance;
•             The Local Government Capital Investment Fund of Morocco (FEC);
•             The Special Fund for Equipment and Inter-Municipal Intervention of Cameroon (FEICOM), represented by Mr. Côme Awoumou, Deputy Director of Cooperation and Partnership;
•             OECD, represented by Ms Marie Trémolières, Senior Policy Analyst at the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) of OECD;
•             The Environment Agency for Territorial Development of the Presidency of the Republic of Benin, represented by Mr. Jean Claude Grisoni Niaki, expert in resource mobilization and structuring of projects for Climate Finance;
•             The 4C Agency of the Ministry of the Environment of Morocco, represented by its Director, Mr. Mohamed Nbou;
•             Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech, represented by Professor Fatima Arib, Sustainable Development and Major Projects Task Manager at the Presidency of the University;
•             The National Associations of Local Governments in Africa, represented by Ms. Florence Radzilani, Mayor of the Municipality of the District of Vhembe (South Africa), Climate and Environmental Planning Officer at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA);
•             NGO ENERGIES 2050, represented by its CEO, Stéphane Pouffary.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, stated the intention of the Task Force to bring together, within the same ecosystem, the various stakeholders working with climate issues. This is to enable them to support local governments in Africa in the implementation of NDCs and in the access to climate finance and most notably the Green Climate Fund. This is open to all those who wish to join it who can do so by applying to the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa.

On behalf of the African Ministers of Public Service, Urban Development, Local Governments and Decentralization, the Hon. Minister Barnabé Dassigli of Benin, Chairman of the Specialized Technical Committee N° 8 of the African Union, commended UCLG Africa for its wonderful initiative, supported by STC N° 8. He expressed confidence that the UCLG Africa's Climate Task Force would have a significant impact on the engagement of African local governments in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and pointed out that within the same support platform for local governments, development banks, institutions specializing in the financing of local governments, technical support agencies for local governments, academic and research institutions, associations of local governments and NGOs active in the field of climate, was a commitment to the synergy of the different stakeholders around the Climate Agenda. Hon. Minister Dassigli confirmed that the African Union's STC N° 8 also supports requests made by local and regional elected officials during the preparatory Forum for COP 22 held in Cotonou in September 2016, especially with regard to the urgency of establishing a capacity building and technical assistance program for local governments to enable them to develop climate plans and prepare eligible funding applications for the Green Climate Fund; as well as for the recognition of UCLG Africa as an "Implementing Partner" of the Green Climate Fund.

The role of territories was recognized as essential for the realization of NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions). Local policy choices in terms of infrastructure, equipment and basic service delivery methods have made an impact on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. Priorities for elected officials include giving a climate perspective to the everyday actions they carry out. There is also a need to build their capacities to measure, report and verify the contribution of their actions and policies in the reduction of emissions and adaptation to the effects of climate change. This requirement for the Measurement, Reporting and Verification of climate actions (MRV) is one of the requirements of the Paris Agreement and one of the conditions to be met in order to access the Green Climate Fund. The National Associations of Local Governments will be required to advocate with the representatives of the NDC Partnership and the focal points of Green Climate Fund in their respective countries.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Unveiled: 3 key emerging trends for Africa

The 2017 version of Ecobank Research’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) Guidebook, has identified tripod future for the African continent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Senior Public Relations Director at Ecobank group, Sherelle Folkes, disclosed in a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet and listed these to include that the continent’s economy rebounding after a trying year, just as gas has been discovered as the next oil in West Africa, whilst the continent is evolving in Financial Technology (FinTech) leadership.

NaijaAgroNet quoted Folkes as saying that expert knowledge and analysis on African markets for investors and businesses, was launched at AfricaFICC, indicated a positive outlook for the continent, with three key trends forecast to take hold during the next 12 months.

NaijaAgroNet reports that the first indicates an economic rebound in sub-Saharan Africa driven by a recovery in the region’s economic heavyweights, such as Nigeria and South Africa, and ongoing growth in the top performers, Ethiopia, Côte d’Ivoire and (more recently) Ghana.

Growth will be driven by a rise in oil production (notably in Ghana, Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Angola), strengthening infrastructure investment across West and East Africa, and improved weather conditions which bode well for crops.

Strengthening economic activity, plus a moderate improvement in oil and mineral prices, will help narrow the current account deficit, but pressure on SSA currencies will remain.

The second emerging trend points to West Africa’s gas sector becoming a hive of activity in 2018 from Senegal to Angola, with the development of gas pipelines, floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platforms and major gas field projects.

Governments in the Gulf of Guinea and across West Africa have ramped up efforts to secure gas supply in order to boost domestic power generation and diversify their revenues away from crude oil.
Deregulating the gas market and allowing market-driven gas prices will be key to unlocking further gas infrastructure investment across the region.


The third trend suggests Fintech innovation in Africa picking up speed in 2018 buoyed by a new generation of Africans who are ‘digital natives’. The proliferation of tech hubs across Africa (notably in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire) will nurture the next wave of African start-ups and help connect them with investors.

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Germany backs renewable energy projects in Africa with RLSF

The German Development Bank also known as Kfw and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) have on the side lines of the annual Africa Investment Exchange: Power and Renewables Meeting, unveiled a new instrument to support renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa that targets small- and mid-scale up to 50 Milliwatt (MW) green power renewable energy projects, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The facility, NaijaAgroNet gathered, is designed to provide a viable solution to one of the biggest challenges facing independent power producers (IPPs) operating in Africa, specifically the requirement to provide project lenders with a liquidity guarantee. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through KfW will provide funding of up to 32.9 million EUR to the facility, which aims to enable small-and mid-scale renewable energy projects in Africa to reach financial close by addressing liquidity requirements that lenders frequently require in order to fund such projects.

NaijaAgroNet reports that the launch of the new facility is happening at an opportune moment when emerging markets are seeing record investments in the renewable energy sector. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects sub-Saharan Africa’s renewables capacity to grow by 73 per cent (24.4GW) over the period 2017-22. In addition, small-scale projects are seen as a potential solution to Africa’s energy deficit because they are easier to implement and can target energy requirements at source, but these projects find it difficult to access the type of guarantees needed to reach financial closure. The facility will kick in by providing immediate liquidity to keep the IPP afloat during periods of payment delays that are beyond the grace period provided in the power purchase agreement.

Günther Nooke, Personal Representative of the German Chancellor for Africa, BMZ, said “The Regional Liquidity Support Facility will address a key challenge in renewable energy project finance and de-risk private sector investments. We are pleased to provide the funding to this innovative instrument underlining Germany’s commitment to the objectives of the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI).”

The RLSF is designed to help independent power producers (IPPs) developing renewable energy projects in Africa to obtain the liquidity they need in the event that their off-taker (frequently a state owned entity) delays payment. The facility will provide immediate cash collateral supported by guarantees to a commercial bank that will in turn open a standby letter of credit to the benefit of the IPP. The amount provided will enable the IPP to operate and service the debt for up to 6 months. Furthermore, unlike most IPP letters of credit (which tend to be 12 month tenors) the facility is designed to be in place for multiple years.

Dr. Thomas Duve, KfW Director Southern Africa and Regional Funds, noted “We highly appreciate the opportunity to partner with ATI on this innovative instrument. The RLSF is a strongly market-driven concept, emphasizing KfW’s strategy to support and leverage the resources of local partners and the private sector.”

The facility, in combination with ATI’s traditional suite of political and trade credit risk insurance products (in particular ATI’s arbitration award default cover), means that ATI is able to cover the full range of political and financial risks facing investors on such projects.

Speaking at the launch, John Lentaigne, ATI’s Chief Underwriting Officer commented “We are delighted to be working with the German government, represented by KfW, on an initiative that directly targets one of the main bottlenecks preventing green power projects from being financed in Africa.”


Jef Vincent, Senior Advisor to ATI, who has overall responsibility for the initial implementation of the facility, added “Unlike some of the alternative solutions to the liquidity issue, ATI’s guarantee (as provided via the RLSF) will not require a counter-guarantee from the relevant Ministry of Finance, and as such we are confident this will be a very useful tool for those projects that we expect to support.”

Isaac Oyimah with agency report/GEE

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