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Monday, July 13, 2020

Post-Pandemic: OLADE, IRENA put renewables at heart with MoU - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) will boost ties to put the renewables-driven energy transformation at the heart of Latin America and the Caribbean’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak. The efforts build on an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) originally signed by the two organisations in 2012.

Accelerating the development of sustainable energy could provide the Latin-American region with a long-term strategy to address social inequality, energy access and energy security. Renewables can also stimulate the growth of clean technology utilisation within the industrial, agricultural, manufacturing and transport sectors, while reducing the carbon emissions in the region by 21 per cent by 2030 compared to today’s levels, contributing towards global decarbonisation efforts in line with the Paris Agreement. In this context, OLADE and IRENA will promote renewable energy investment and financing, as well as energy integration in the region.

Under IRENA’s Global Renewables Outlook, accelerating the renewable energy driven transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean could create more than three million jobs across the region by 2050, while offering economic returns of between USD $3 and USD $8 dollars on every dollar invested the energy transformation. Investment needs in the region are estimated at USD $45 billion per year between now and mid-century – an increase of more than 10 per cent over current plans and policies.

“It is our core priority to help OLADE member countries improve energy access and security of energy supply in socially, technically and economically convenient conditions, promoting the incorporation of clean energy resources and efficient technologies,” said Alfonso Blanco Bonilla, Executive Secretary of OLADE. “It is in this context, strengthened collaboration between OLADE and IRENA can support the achievement of deeper energy transitions in the region, accounting for a diverse set of national circumstances and in line with the sustainable development objectives.”

“We stand together with OLADE in ensuring there is collective regional recognition of the socio-economic potential of a green recovery built around the energy transformation,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “While the region is diverse, all countries within it seek to benefit from higher shares of renewables, from enhanced energy security and lower system costs to widespread job creation, improved health and economic growth. The decisions made by policymakers today must seek to build a future of stability and prosperity, rather than prolong the unsustainable systems of the past.”

The Lima Declaration, approved during the XLIX Meeting of OLADE Ministers in November 2019, established energy complementarity and integration as a regional priority, promoting the creation and revitalisation of regional energy markets, including renewable energy. Additionally, the Declaration, ratified the commitment made by OLADE Member Countries to harmonise energy transition with economic growth and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Latin American countries possess vast and untapped renewable energy potential. In addition several countries in the region have developed robust electricity markets which results in an appealing destination for RE project developers and investors looking for geographical diversification and clean investments. Countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay have grown renewable energy capacity significantly in recent years. In 2019, total regional capacity increased by around 12 gigawatts (GW) and IRENA’s recent Future of Solar Photovoltaic report highlighted that the region’s solar energy capacity alone could grow by a factor of 40 by 2050 to more than 280 GW thanks to an abundant resource endowment and strong enabling policies. In addition, geothermal, wind and bioenergy all play an increasingly important role in the region’s low-carbon energy mix.

In September last year, Colombia led a region-wide initiative called Renewable Energy in Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) to increase the share of renewables for electricity generation to at least 70 per cent by 2030. 10 countries are already part of this initiative and several entities have confirmed their support. This initiative may offer an additional area of collaboration between OLADE and IRENA.

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Ekiti commences renovation of Primary Healthcare facilities - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

The Ekiti State government has commenced the renovation of Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities across the state, reports 
NaijaAgroNet.

The state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi disclosed this last Friday while inaugurating the state’s health Insurance scheme aimed at ensuring that all residents of the state have access to quality and affordable health care services in Ado-Ekiti,.

Dr Fayemi said his administration would continue to ensure that all residents of the state have direct and unbridled access to quality healthcare at an affordable price.

The flag off ceremony was witnessed by the deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi, Wife of the Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; Commissioner for Health and human Services, Dr Moji Yaya-Kolade as well as stakeholders in the health sector.

The Governor also disclosed that his administration had commenced renovation of 16 primary healthcare facilities across the state in order to ensure effectiveness of the insurance scheme.

He urged Ekiti indigenes to prepare for the future by keying into the programme saying “the act of insurance simply implies getting ready or prepared for future unforeseen happenstances, that is saving in readiness for unforeseen losses even though nobody prays for one”

Dr Fayemi said he was confident that the programme will ensure protection of Ekiti families from financial hardships of huge medical bills with the aim to ensure sound health of children and safe delivery of pregnant mothers.

He assured that nobody would be turned away from any of the health services on account of poverty, adding that money has been released to take care of specific vulnerable group especially pregnant mothers and children under five years to participate in the scheme at the point of care.

The governor stated further that the other groups would be gradually incorporated into the scheme as they register and fulfill the requirements.

He said, “The launch of this scheme is very important, considering the prevailing precarious health situation human race is facing worldwide, the launch of Ekiti state Health Insurance Scheme today shows our continued quests to strengthen and sustain quality healthcare delivery in our dear state.

“We are therefore gathered here to prepare for qualitative healthcare for our people even though we do no pray to fall sick, our actions today show that we as a government and people are making provisions for accessible, qualitative, effective and efficient healthcare delivery through the launch of the Ekiti state Health Insurance Scheme. Many of you here would recall that Ekiti state Health Insurance scheme was initiated and piloted under our maternal child health programme in my first term in office, this was eventually passed into law as part of this administration’s dynamic and sustained health financing system.

“As we all know, health insurance guarantees unlimited healthcare funding with the view to achieving universal healthcare coverage with little or no financial burden on both the government and the people of the state.

“The mission of this scheme therefore is to put in place appropriate health plans and programmes that will ensure continuous access of all Ekiti residents to qualitative and affordable healthcare services through collective pulling and redistribution of our financial resources

“As a responsible government, we have also commenced the renovation of primary healthcare facilities across the state starting from here at Okeyinmi Comprehensive health Centre as well as fifteen others to prepare adequate infrastructural facilities for the provision of basic healthcare services at selected locations.”

The governor noted that his administration had recorded successes especially in the area of women protection and empowerment; in construction and industrial development, knowledge economy; security of lives and property; restoration of values as well as the health sector.

He explained further that his administration was committed to supporting the health sector to ensure quality healthcare delivery with the aim of boosting the health status of the state and its entire population.

The highpoint of the event was the distribution of medical kits to some registered expectant mothers at the Okeeyinmi Primary health centre. The distribution was made by Erelu Fayemi, whom also urged the women to take full advantage of the new initiative.

Also speaking at the event, the State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr (Mrs) Mojisola Yaya-Kolade commended Governor Fayemi for restoring values and worth of lives of Ekiti residents adding that the scheme would provide them with easy access to healthcare with no discrimination to financial status or class.

The commissioner restated that the scheme was introduced to provide universal healthcare and improve access to preventive care as well as provide early effective diagnosis and quality treatment.

She congratulated Ekiti residents who would no longer need to wait for 30 days before maturation of the insurance policy as Dr Fayemi administration had reduced it to 14days.

In their goodwill messages, the representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and National Health Care Development Agency (NHCDA) all commended that state government for the launch of the scheme which they described as being long awaited.

They urged residents of the state to key into the scheme as a way of bringing better improvement to the health status.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Friday, July 10, 2020

Extensive Drought: ARC, WFP respond to Zimbabwe with $1.7m - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
The African Risk Capacity Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd) Thursday paidout the sum of USD 1.4 million to the Government of Zimbabwe and another US$ 290,288 to UN World Food Programme (WFP), in parametric drought risk insurance payouts to support the extensive drought response efforts in Zimbabwe, reports NaijaAgroNet

The payouts announced via a virtual ceremony were the result of drought insurance policies bought by Zimbabwe’s National Treasury and UN World Food Programme (WFP) to cover the 2019/20 rainfall season. 

These payouts will contribute in funding the early response measures put in place by Government and WFP through the ARC Operational Plan mechanism. The payout to the Government will be used to support over 155 000 families in the highly vulnerable districts of Buhera, UMP, Chivi, Binga and Bulilima, through direct mobile cash disbursements during the month of August 2020. 8. WFP will use the ARC payout to support around 33,550 beneficiaries with unconditional food assistance in prioritized wards during Sept/Oct’20 and complement the Government’s response efforts through the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy.

Speaking after the official notification of the ARC payout, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Honorable Prof. Mthuli Ncube, said; “This is evidence that the Government of Zimbabwe is taking measures of cushioning its fiscus against natural disasters, in Zimbabwe. The payout will complement existing social safety nets that Government has structured to counter droughts but also to respond to the emergence of the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Zimbabwe is increasingly vulnerable to severe drought events, and other calamities such as floods and tropical cyclones. Given the unpredictable nature of occurrence of these disasters, Government has had to resort to National Budget reallocations to cushion vulnerable populations against their impacts. In that sense the Government of Zimbabwe has moved to revamp its disaster risk financing systems. 

The ARC parametric risk insurance facility has been identified as a low hanging opportunity. With adequate insurance coverage against droughts, floods and outbreaks and epidemics at sovereign level, Government stands a better chance to cushion its fiscus against natural disasters now and in the future. 

Speaking on the ARC payout to Zimbabwe, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Chairperson of African Risk Capacity (ARC) Agency said, “it is helpful that this payout is coming at a time when there is a compounded effect of COVID 19 pandemic; and we hope that in addition to assisting the population affected by the drought, it will enable the Government in easing the financial pressure of supporting affected communities. Although disasters are not to be celebrated, when a Government takes steps of hedging its investments in food security against natural risk to broaden fiscus flexibility when a disaster strike, it should be commended. “The payout signifies the policy direction that Zimbabwe and other Governments across the continent are taking towards a transformative culture to disaster risk management and financing for the benefit of the population that is vulnerable to climate change’, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala concluded.

The Government has also called upon Development Partners to complement its efforts to increase insurance coverage at sovereign level. This support can either be direct or indirect. The ARC insurance products can be accessed by non-government entities such as UN Agencies, INGOs and private sector entities. 

Mr. Niels Balzer, the (a.i) UN World Food Programme Country Director and Representative for Zimbabwe, said, “The ARC payout to the Government of Zimbabwe and WFP through the Replica initiative is proof that the concept works as an innovative instrument to finance early response and lifesaving actions in the aftermath of extreme droughts. When combined with other instruments such as micro-insurance for smallholder farmers and Forecast-based Anticipatory Action, it provides powerful combined approach that has the potential to accelerate progress towards zero hunger in Zimbabwe.” He urged other Governments and Development Partners especially in the SADC region to capitalise on this instrument for enhancing climate resilience and food security in the region. 

Development Partners running resilience projects in disaster prone regions of Zimbabwe can directly secure their investments by purchasing insurance coverage from ARC, whilst micro-insurance companies can either act as insurance aggregators of small-holder farmers to allow bulk purchase of crop insurance from ARC or can purchase re-insurance products from ARC on specific terms and conditionalities. The ARC insurance products are highly competitive given that they capitalise on pooling risk across the risk diverse African continent, thus attracting favorable rates on the international re-insurance market. 

Over and above insurance products, these entities can also capitalise on ARC early warning, risk analytics, operational planning for early response and knowledge on disaster risk financing products and capabilities. 

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Pix: Representatives of ARC, Government of Zimbabwe, and other partners during the virtual ceremony

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Adamawa: BUA cement targets ultramodern 3m plant, 50mw power - NaijaAgroNet


NaijaAgroNet:
BUA Cement, one of West Africa’s largest cement companies has announced that it is set to establish a three million metric tonnes cement plant and 50 megawatts power plant in Guyuk and Lamurde local governments of Adamawa state in the North Easter region of Nigeria. This was revealed when the Chairman of BUA, Abdul Samad Rabiu led the BUA Cement Management team on a courtesy call to the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in the Government House, Yola.

Speaking during the visit, Abdul Samad Rabiu said preliminary findings show that the two local governments of Guyuk and Lamurde are reputed to have good quality of limestone deposits and BUA Cement is ready to begin the investment in the state. He added that the BUA will use new technologies to supply power to the proposed cement plant and communities of Guyuk and Lamurde in addition to providing three thousand direct and five thousand indirect jobs.

The Chairman stressed that the Guyuk Cement Plant will be the major investment in the North East by BUA and solicited for support of Governor Umaru Fintiri to set up the factory in Guyuk. Rabiu said the company made a decision to source its raw materials locally and it has invested billions of dollars in various sectors across Nigeria and therefore urged the state government to support BUA to actualize the Guyuk Cement project. In addition, he praised the commitment of the governor within one year in office in many sectors of development despite the economic challenges in Adamawa.

Responding, Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri said his administration's effort in exploring local contents has started yielding results and thanked BUA for showing interest in establishing the cement plant in Guyuk. He further assured the management team of BUA that government will make whatever is needed and provide the necessary support which will create enabling environment so that the BUA Cement company in Guyuk will become a reality.

He also expressed readiness of the government to protect the investment once it is established and told them that his administration will maintain the good relationship with the company for the benefit of the state.

BUA is Nigeria’s second largest Cement Producer by volume with cement plants in Sokoto and Edo States. The Company’s newest plant in Sokoto is expected to be operational in 2021. When completed, the Guyuk Cement Plant will bring BUA’s total capacity to 14million metric tonnes per annum.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor


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Monday, July 6, 2020

Drought Response: Madagascar receives $2.13m from African Risk - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
The Government of Madagascar has received a symbolic cheque in the amount of USD 2,13 million from the African Risk Capacity Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd) to cover anticipated losses to livelihoods of its vulnerable population from the crop failure in the just concluded farming season, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The ARC payout is the result of drought insurance taken by the country with the support of the African Development Bank (the Bank) through its flagship programme, Africa Disaster Risk Financing (ADRiFi) Programme, which financed 100% of the 2019/2020 insurance premium for sovereign drought risk transfer for the Republic of Madagascar.

The payout held last Thursday, will be implemented to assist the lives and livelihoods of 600,000 vulnerable population affected by the drought, thereby preventing them from resorting to negative coping mechanism including eating their seeds, selling farm implements, internal displacement, forced migration etc.

The Minister of Economy and Finance, Richard RANDRIAMANDRATO, representing the Malagasy Government during the official handover ceremony stated in his speech that: "The drought insurance of African Risk Capacity is one of the sustainable solutions to strengthen the efforts of the Government and partners in the Southern region of Madagascar. It demonstrates the mutual assistance between friendly African countries to respond efficiently to natural disasters, particularly drought." Such a mechanism is beneficial for Madagascar as it will enable us to improve the conditions of farmers and the livelihoods of vulnerable populations in the "Great South" that are victims of recurrent drought, as well as to preserve their production capital. Early interventions to be implemented with this fund will focus on unconditional cash transfer and Cash for Work (CFW) for 15,000 vulnerable households, nutritional support for 2,000 children under 5 years of age, and water supply for 84,000 households. Thus, this insurance mechanism supports the implementation of the National Disaster Risk Management Policy and Strategy, particularly the promotion of financial resilience to climatic hazards.

Madagascar faces disaster risks from an increasingly variable and changing climate, which add to the challenges of widespread food insecurity. Due to its geographical position, the country is vulnerable to various climate shocks. Cyclones, floods, and droughts bring devastating consequences by putting considerable pressure on the country’s public finances as well as real GDP growth.

According to African Development Bank, natural disasters in Madagascar in 2017 caused an estimated USD 420 million in related damages. It is in this context that, in October 2019, Madagascar joined the ARC drought insurance risk Pool VI for the 2019/2020 crop season as one of the pilot countries of ADRIFI programme.

In his remarks, UN-ASG Mohamed Beavogui, the Director-General of African Risk Capacity said, “The payout made by ARC to support the drought-affected population in the Great South” region was made possible thanks to the leadership and commitment of the Government of Madagascar to protect its people. We also thank the AfDB for their laudable support through the ADRiFi programme. This is a vivid testimony that collaboration between African governments and development partners, both within and outside the region, using market approaches can go a long way in saving developmental gains on the continent.

“Our purpose in working with Member States to provide disaster risk insurance is targeted at promoting resilience and providing financial protection to the vulnerable population when perils occur”, remarked Lesley Ndlovu, the CEO of ARC Insurance Limited. “We are glad that this payout will assist the Government in quickly supporting its affected population to rebuild and recover from the effects of the drought and prevent them from resorting to negative coping mechanisms”, he concluded

In establishing a framework for collaboration, ARC and AfDB signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March 2017 to support African states to manage disaster risks and to be better prepared to effectively respond to climate related perils that seriously affect the continent. It is within this framework that the Bank provided the financial support to the Government of Madagascar for the payment of its insurance premium over a period of 5 years (2019-2023) through the ADRiFi programme.

“The insurance policy payout is timely, with Madagascar also facing the challenges of dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic. It demonstrates that risk transfer programmes can help countries manage the risks of climate-related disaster and release pressure on public finances when multiple crises occur,” said Dr. Jennifer Blanke, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development at African Development Bank.

With the support of the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, France, the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States, ARC helps the member states of the Union to reduce the risk of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events affecting African populations by providing, through sovereign disaster risk insurance, targeted responses to natural disasters in a more timely, economical, objective and transparent manner. ARC is now using its expertise to help tackle other major threats facing the continent, including outbreaks and outbreaks.

Since 2014, 45 insurance contracts have been signed by ARC member states, representing USD 83 million in premiums paid for a total insurance coverage of USD 602 million to protect 54 million vulnerable people in participating countries.

“Madagascar’s accession to the drought insurance mechanism as part of this ADRiFi program is a very encouraging initiative. The collaboration between the Malagasy Government, ARC and the AfDB is still as fruitful in terms of developing a financial protection mechanism in the face of disaster risks. The sustainability of this tripartite collaboration will allow us to open doors of extensions to other risk areas of the country or even for other types of climatic hazards such as cyclones, floods and epidemics,” said General of Air Brigade Mamy Razakanaivo, Executive Secretary of the CPGU (Prevention and Support Unit for Emergency Management) within the Prime Minister's Office and Supervisor of the ARC program in Madagascar.
Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Pic: Madagascar Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Agriculture and ARC Partners during the ceremony.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Ecobank Group leads new private sector initiative to end malaria - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet
The Ecobank Group has reaffirmed commitment to support ending malaria, by launching the first-of-its-kind Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative in partnership with Dakar-based not-for-profit strategic communications and advocacy organization, Speak Up Africa, and the UN-hosted RBM Partnership to End Malaria, NaijaAgroNet.

The new programme is set out to drive private-sector engagement on the fight against malaria in Africa. It supports the Pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me Movement, led by the African Union and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria launched two years ago today by African Heads of States at the 31st African Union Summit in Nouakchott.

The collaboration will support malaria affected countries across the continent, starting with Benin, Burkina Faso and Senegal by advocating for stronger political will, increased funding, and stronger targeted disease elimination responses. The campaign’s objectives are three-fold:
  • Foster domestic resource mobilization for sustained financing of malaria control and elimination programs
  • Mobilize businesses and business leaders to contribute to the reduction and elimination of malaria;
  • Leverage Ecobank’s networks and partners to reinforce or create collaborative platforms.
“Ultimately, ending malaria will increase prosperity across Africa, by creating a healthier workforce that can drive economic growth. The Ecobank Group is thrilled to collaborate with Speak Up Africa, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and the African Union on the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative, and to use its position as a platform for co-ordinated action against this treatable and preventable disease”, says Paul-Harry Aithnard, Regional Executive UEMOA, Ecobank.

Originally launched in Senegal in 2014, Zero Malaria Starts with Me engages political leaders, the private sector and communities to take action to protect themselves from malaria, and the new initiative will continue to progress this mission. To date, 15 countries across the continent have rolled out their own national Zero Malaria campaigns.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over US $10 billion is needed to implement national strategic plans for malaria control in 30 African countries over the next three years[1]. However, despite all the efforts made by governments, funding for the fight against malaria remains a challenge. An annual US $2 billion in additional global funding is required to reach all those at risk of malaria, outlining the importance of private-sector engagement.

“To become the generation to end malaria, it is crucial that we increase funding to fight this disease to protect everyone at risk. There is an incredible opportunity for the private sector to join the fight, and we are thrilled to see the Ecobank Group leading the way with the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative. By increasing private-sector funding and engagement, we will unlock valuable resources and mobilization, that will go a long way in helping us rid the African continent of malaria once and for all”, highlights Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

Malaria remains one of the continent’s deadliest diseases, with more than 400,000 fatalities in 2018 alone. Malaria not only impacts the health of communities across Africa, but prosperity too, as the disease limits economic growth and increases poverty amongst the workforce.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Fayemi dreams of 50,000 affordable homes - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

The government of Ekiti State under Gov. Kayode Fayemi is dreaming of at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years, reports 
NaijaAgroNet.

This, 
NaijaAgroNet gathered saw to the partnership of Ekiti State with SHS Holdings and UNOPS have today, July 1, 2020, entered a deal to build at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next decade worth some $2bn.

All of the new affordable homes built will include renewable energy and disease preventative technology – including solar panel roofs, waste-to-energy technology and mosquito-repelling coatings.

The Nigerian state is the latest to join one of the largest affordable housing initiatives in the world, part of UNOPS Sustainable Infrastructure Impact Investments (S3I) - which will deliver 1.3 million homes across multiple countries on three continents over the next decade. The partnership will create thousands of local jobs at the factory and on construction sites and will spur economic growth among a host of local industries.

As part of the agreement signed today, UNOPS and SHS will seek to mobilize resources from third party investors to fund this initiative whose gross development value (based on the sales value of completed homes) is estimated to reach US$2 billion. SHS will supply proprietary state-of-the art technology as well as oversee the development of housing by qualified contractors. UNOPS will bring to bear its comparative advantages in the mandated (by the UN General Assembly) areas, such as: infrastructure, procurement and project management. The Government of Ekiti will identify and allocate suitable land for potential developments, and help create an enabling environment for foreign direct investment and mortgage finance.

S3I aims to break down barriers and create attractive opportunities for private sector investors to engage in long-term development initiatives – with a focus on affordable housing, renewable energy and health infrastructure.

Ekiti State Governor, H.E. Dr. Kayode Fayemi said: “We are very excited to partner with UNOPS and SHS to deliver affordable housing to the people of Ekiti State. This partnership will not only deliver 50,000 homes in our communities, it will also increase foreign direct investment into Ekiti State, and put thousands of our people in jobs. This is how our promise of developing Ekiti, and improving the lives of the people can be achieved. This partnership has come at an important time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reminded us of the need to deliver quality social infrastructure to the people. I am excited that UNOPS and SHS have chosen Ekiti State as the first destination in Nigeria for this project, and we will do everything to ensure we create a model that can be replicated across the country.”

Speaking on the announcement, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Chief Executive of S3I (Sustainable Infrastructure Impact Investments), Vitaly Vanshelboim, said: “We are very pleased to support this contribution to Nigeria’s national development priorities and in particular, to help meet the critical need for affordable housing, through innovative approaches to construction and mortgage financing. UNOPS is strongly committed to helping find new ways to finance inclusive, resilient and sustainable development activities that generate positive social, economic and environmental impacts.”

Dr Allen Zimbler, Chairman of SHS Holdings, said: “SHS Holdings is proud to participate in signing a collaboration agreement with the Ekiti State Government of Nigeria and UNOPS in respect of building at least 50,000 sustainable housing units for key government employees and other eligible citizens, in sites to be identified within the State. SHS is committed to making housing accessible to all, using a robust and reliable construction technology, and employing proprietary energy efficient solar rooftops, waste to energy technology and mosquito-repellant coating. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Development of the Ekiti State Government and to creating opportunities for the employment of significant numbers of local citizens in the process.”

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Africa needs inclusive workable energy transition - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

The African Energy Chamber takes notes of recent initiatives taken by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to support Africa’s energy transition and salutes the leadership of the IEA in this dialogue, reports 
NaijaAgroNet.

Such conversations notably echo the Chamber’s recent statement on African Lives Matter, questioning the OECD and IEA’s recent call to phase out fossil fuels. While the conversation of Africa’s energy transition continues, the Chamber reiterates its support to inclusive dialogues that take into account the realities of African economies and of energy poverty.

Unfortunately, the Africa Ministerial Roundtable organized this week has sidelined key stakeholders and actors within Africa’s energy sector, preventing its ability to be truly inclusive and impactful on the ground. Africa’s energy transition will not be possible without the inclusion, and participation of, the continent’s petroleum and gas ministries and companies.

The Chamber strongly believes that key institutions like the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO), led by its Secretary General Dr. Farouk Ibrahim, need to be part of this dialogue, along with representatives of the petroleum ministries of producing countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial, Libya, Congo or Gabon and key National Oil Companies such as Sonatrach, GEPetrol, Gabon Oil, NNPC or Sonangol. The African private sector was not invited while we note the invitation and participation an international oil company. Given the importance of the oil & gas sector for several African economies, the Chamber questions the relevance of an energy debate that would exclude them from the conversation.

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How crypto is helping NGO with Covid-19 response - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

Coronavirus cases are multiplying at alarming rates in South Africa, where NGOs estimate the population will require assistance for many months to come.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the world, causing almost half-a-million deaths, illnesses, and economic downturns. The World Bank argues that the deadly virus could push up to 60 million people into extreme poverty, wiping out the progress made in this area in the past three years.

In a recent report, the financial institution also said they believe that about a million people will drop back into extreme poverty in South Africa alone. In this Sub-Saharan country, where about a third of its 67.4 million inhabitants do not have access to essential sanitation services, the Covid-19 disease could have a particularly devastating effect.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently warned that because more than a third of Africa's population lacks access to adequate water supplies and nearly 60% of the urban population lives in overcrowded slums where the virus could thrive, the continent could be the next epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.





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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

NaijaAgroNet: 

The impact of Coronavirus or COVID-19 on the food security and agriculture in Nigeria is already being felt, says PwC Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

PwC in its latest report available to 
NaijaAgroNet, noted that with COVID-19, the challenges hampering the attainment of food security in Nigeria could deepen.

“The impact is already being felt in the form of rising food prices,” part of the report stated.

Also, it said that as at April 2020, food inflation rose to 15 per cent compared to 14.7 per cent in December 2019.

“To ensure that the agricultural sector is not further impacted by the distortions caused by COVID-19, the government should ensure more palliatives are provided to farmers in the form of improved seedlings, basic farm implements at highly subsidized prices, and free or more affordable farm extension services.

PwC equally noted that of importance is the need to ensure that the sector is accorded more budgetary allocations in line with the Maputo declaration, increase the operational capacity of the strategic grain reserves, and reintroduction of farming clusters to be financed through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

In addition, the report pointed out that state governments should reassess their area of core competence in the agriculture value chain and promote investment in that area.

Highlights of the report include challenges in the agriculture sector before COVID-19, policy measures for agribusiness, the impact of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s agricultural value chain, recommendations for improving agribusiness post COVID-19, and case studies for using innovation to boost agribusiness.


Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Building purpose-driven businesses is key to economic empowerment


NaijaAgroNet:
Earlier this month and following the death of George Floyd, SoftBank announced a $100m investment fund for minority-owned businesses. 

The Opportunity Fund will invest only in companies led by people of color, and is the first such fund to be created in response to growing protests, in the US and worldwide, against racism and lack of equal opportunities for black people. While the initiative is not the first of its kind in the US or abroad (South Africa has several financial institutions dedicated to providing financial support to black entrepreneurs), its significance is much stronger now.

The US is in fact home to several financial institutions dedicated to supporting low- and moderate-income communities of color. However, as their relevance grows in the wake of the current crisis, their number has been steadily declining over the past years. One of the oldest such institution still in business today is the Unity National Bank. It is Texas’ only black-owned bank and an example of what purpose-driven businesses can accomplish for their communities and their country.

The Unity National Bank was established in the early 1960s and has since then supported the banking and capital needs of low- and moderate-income communities across Texas. While it used to operate in a banking industry with 47 African American-controlled banks in the early 2000s, the recession of 2008 took its toll on its peers. In 2019, the US had only 22 remaining black-owned banks.

Since 2005, the Unity National Bank is majority-owned by Nigeria-born oil executive Kase Lawal and his family. Kase Lawal is also Chairman of CAMAC International and seen as one of the few successful black entrepreneur in the energy sector, which remains an industry widely dominated by white men. He currently serves as Board Chairman of the Unity National Bank and, under his leadership, the bank has been able to weather the storm since 2008 and keep expanding. In 2018, it opened in Atlanta, its first expansion beyond the state of Texas, in order to consolidate and serve the African American community better.

Its lending program is focused on supporting and rebuilding its community, especially via commercial and mortgage loans. Unity National Bank has forged a network of partners and agents that are able to support the very core of its activities, from lending to supporting financial literacy across community.

While the bank, like other African American-owned banks, has struggled in recent years due to its smaller size and financial performances, its management is putting the foundations in place for the business to continue growing. It recently partnered with Citigroup and introduced a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which reportedly allowed the saving of 3,000 jobs. The PPP loans, acclaimed for their support to small black-owned businesses, even earned Unity National Bank a visit by Vice President Mike Pence this year.

“Kase Lawal is real, a legend. He is an improbable driver for black empowerment through entrepreneurship, even as most people never saw him coming and counted him out. I am not surprised that he will rise to the occasion, walk the walk and execute during these times when our communities are dealing with the scourge of Covid19 and difficult economic conditions,” stated NJ Ayuk Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “His humanity and humility lets him walk with the little guy and still keep his virtue. He may seat with Presidents and Ministers yet never loses the common touch or forgets where he came from. He is always thinking about the poor and the upward mobility of those who have not been dealt a fair hand by our economy,” added Mr Ayuk.

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on American jobs and lives, and even more so for African American communities, and at a time when the world calls for better support to black entrepreneurs and businesses, the Kase Lawal-chaired institution is set to benefit. It remains one of the few institutions in the US with a true purpose of working with communities and linking their fate together to create a better future for African American families and gives countless of talented young women and men the means to build a successful future.

As the world seeks new ways to build equal societies, developing successful business models that promote equal opportunities and bring much-needed capital to talented communities is becoming the need of the hour. In doing so, looking at black-owned banks and businesses and learning from their experience would prove very beneficial. Beyond looking at pure business principles and balance sheets fundamentals, these companies are driven by a true social purpose which could well be the kind of basis the world needs to build fairer societies.

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Monday, June 29, 2020

HP committed to sustainable development, releases 2019 impact report - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

HP Inc has reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating 75 per cent of single-use plastic packaging by 2025, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The company restated the commitment in its just-released 2019 Sustainable Impact Report, which also highlights the progress HP is making to drive diversity and inclusion, as well as strengthen communities globally.

“The HP culture has long been built on the belief that how we do things is just as important as what we do. Recent events have laid bare the systemic racism and deep inequalities that remain a stain on society, and it’s imperative for all companies to act with urgency on all fronts,” said Enrique Lores, HP President and CEO.

“It’s especially important for companies to hold themselves accountable and publicly report their progress,” Lores continued. “This year’s data shows that HP is making significant strides forward in many areas, while also revealing where we must do better. For example, the number of African American employees is below where it needs to be, and we are taking actions to improve. While we have a lot of hard work ahead, our values-driven culture that unites our teams and our partners gives me confidence in our ability to accelerate our progress and foster a more sustainable, equitable, and just society.”

As part of these commitments, HP announced a new goal to eliminate 75 percent of single-use plastic packaging by 2025, supporting the company’s efforts to drive a low-carbon, circular economy.

Efforts to make a sustainable impact on people, the planet and communities are integrated into HP’s business strategy and operations, and have become an increasingly important driver of customer purchasing decisions. HP’s Sustainable Impact efforts helped drive more than $1.6 billion in sales wins in 2019, up an estimated 69 percent, reflecting the growing business imperative for companies to lead with purpose.

The goal focuses on hardware unit packaging and is predicated on a move to moulded fibre packaging cushions. HP’s environmental packaging strategy aims to eliminate unnecessary plastics and materials of concerns wherever possible.

For instance, in 2019, HP decided to eliminate power cord plastic ties and plastic document bags in hardware packaging. HP also has shifted to more recyclable, paper-based alternatives. To accelerate this shift, the company is transitioning from plastic foam packaging cushions to those made with 100 per cent recycled, moulded pulp for HP’s notebooks, desktops and displays. The transition to moulded fibre Personal Systems packaging cushions eliminated 933 tonnes of hard-to-recycle expanded plastic foam last year.

In Printing, HP reduced plastic foam by 40 per cent and eliminated over 95 tonnes of the material in 2019 just by redesigning the packaging of a printer model.

Launched in 2019, the HP Tango Terra is HP’s first printer with zero plastic packagings, using a combination of moulded fibre cushions and glassine paper to replace the typical plastic foam and bag.

In 3D printing, HP recently announced the availability of a new material called polypropylene (PP), that helps reduce waste by enabling up to 100 per cent reusability of surplus powder.

HP has also sourced more than 60 million bottles of ocean-bound plastic and launched the world’s first notebook, display, mobile workstation and enterprise Chromebook made using ocean-bound plastics.

With 111 Gold and 268 Silver EPEAT-registered products – more than any other company in the IT industry, HP has the world’s most sustainable PC portfolio.

Aside from the environment, HP has also committed to diversity and inclusion at all levels of the company while fighting racial inequality, announcing a new goal to double the number of Black and African American executives inside the company by 2025.

The Company’s Board of Directors continues to be the most diverse of any U.S. technology company, comprised of 42 per cent women and 58 per cent minorities. In 2019, 63 per cent of U.S. hires were from underrepresented groups, including women, U.S. ethnicities, veterans, and persons with disabilities.

Globally, 40 per cent of HP hires in 2019 were women, and the company’s Global Supplier Diversity program spent $374 million with small and diverse suppliers including minority- and women-owned businesses, contributing $698 million in overall economic impact.

Earlier this year, HP re-committed to the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The HP Foundation pledged $500,000 to social justice organizations to confront and combat systemic racism and inequality in society.

HP is also leveraging its platforms to shine a spotlight on these issues globally, and is partnering with Girl Rising, a global non-profit dedicated to eradicating poverty by providing education to women and girls, to launch ‘My Story: The 2020 Storytelling Challenge.’

The challenge will bring to life examples of young leaders fighting for human rights, racial justice, gender equity and the advancement of education for girls.

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Investment in renewable energy highly attractive - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
The renewable power has been described highly attractive just as its increasingly cheaper than any new electricity capacity based on fossil fuels, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published reveals, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019
NaijaAgroNet gathered, showed that more than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower power costs than the cheapest new coal plants.

The report highlights that new renewable power generation projects now increasingly undercut existing coal-fired plants. On average, new solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind power cost less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation, and auction results show this trend accelerating – reinforcing the case to phase-out coal entirely. Next year, up to 1 200 gigawatts (GW) of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar PV, the report shows.

Replacing the costliest 500 GW of coal with solar PV and onshore wind next year would cut power system costs by up to USD 23 billion every year and reduce annual emissions by around 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to 5% of total global CO2 emissions in 2019. It would also yield an investment stimulus of USD 940 billion, which is equal to around 1% of global GDP.

“We have reached an important turning point in the energy transition. The case for new and much of the existing coal power generation, is both environmentally and economically unjustifiable,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity, offering tremendous potential to stimulate the global economy and get people back to work. Renewable investments are stable, cost-effective and attractive offering consistent and predictable returns while delivering benefits to the wider economy.

“A global recovery strategy must be a green strategy,” La Camera added. “Renewables offer a way to align short-term policy action with medium- and long-term energy and climate goals. Renewables must be the backbone of national efforts to restart economies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. With the right policies in place, falling renewable power costs, can shift markets and contribute greatly towards a green recovery.”

Renewable electricity costs have fallen sharply over the past decade, driven by improving technologies, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains and growing developer experience. Since 2010, utility-scale solar PV power has shown the sharpest cost decline at 82%, followed by concentrating solar power (CSP) at 47%, onshore wind at 39% and offshore wind at 29%.

Costs for solar and wind power technologies also continued to fall year-on-year. Electricity costs from utility-scale solar PV fell 13% in 2019, reaching a global average of 6.8 cents (USD 0.068) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Onshore and offshore wind both declined about 9%, reaching USD 0.053/kWh and USD 0.115/kWh, respectively.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor


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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Propertymart boosts affordable housing, allocates plots @Fairmont Hilltop Estate - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

Propertymart Real Estate Investment Limited has intensified its effort to provide affordable housing to Nigerians with the allocation of plots of land to subscribers at Scheme Two of its Fairmont Hilltop Estate, Alagbado, Lagos.

Subscribers to the residential scheme, an affordable housing initiative, were full of commendations for the Company as they took possession of their plots at the weekend.

The subscribers, who praised both the scenic hilltop estate and infrastructure already provided by the Company, also hailed the speedy and transparent allocation process.

One of the allottees, Gibson Eze, praised the company, saying “I’m impressed with Propertymart. I like their customer service in particular and I will be recommending this Estate to others because my experience so far has been excellent. Every one of their activities is documented, and since it’s documented, it gives you the room to have trust. Once there is documentation, trust can easily flow.”

Another allottee, Biodun Koleosho, also praised Propertymart for the excellent layout of the Estate and not using the COVID-19 lockdown to delay allocation of plots.

He said, “They have done an excellent job of following up, keeping to their word and that is being able to deliver plots to customers. In terms of documentation, despite the COVID-19 lockdown, they got in touch with me and sent me an e-copy of the contract pending when I could come to the office and sign the hard copy. So, despite the challenges of COVID-19, they are still able to deliver as promised.”

An elated Mrs Abiola Oni also said, “I like the speedy nature of the sale and documentation process. We paid around early February, and here we are in June with our plot. The environment is nice and cool. I am impressed with Propertymart.”

Mrs Lynda Esohe Ugbesi, who stood in for her brother, Lucky Anthony, couldn’t contain her excitement with the serene Estate. She explained that “The environment is conducive and accessible. The terrain is excellent. I can see flooding won’t be an issue. The allocation process is transparent. I’m happy with the way everything has been done. I was even asking if they have more plots available so that I can tell others about the Estate.”

While commending the beautiful location, another allottee, Timothy Oyeniyi, said he had been on the lookout for a beautiful estate to invest in and that Fairmont Hilltop fit the bill perfectly.

He said, “It is secure from the hustle and bustle of the main Ota; it is close to Lagos. You can jump in and out without having to go through the potholes that many people experience in Ota. It’s a serene environment. That’s what I like about the location itself. And the fact that it’s a border town between Ogun and Lagos States.”

Speaking about the Estate and Propertymart’s resolve to provide affordable housing to Nigerians, General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Propertymart, Oluwasegun Damiro said it is committed to helping Nigerians own their homes in a safe and secure environment and at pocket-friendly prices.

He said, “we are for the grassroots and what we want to sell to people, particularly first-time homeowners, is affordability. Inside this Estate, we have some two-bedroom bungalows that we are constructing for people who won’t have time to build and want to save themselves the hassles of buying land and clearing. This is apart from the common land grabbers issue.”

Damiro added that though plots in Schemes One and Two in the Estate have been fully taken, prospective homeowners can take up the exciting promo offers in Scheme Three which run till the end of June.

“Ordinarily, our plot size is 500 Sqm, but we have 400 Sqm, 324 Sqm and 240 Sqm so that you could pay as low as N5 million. It’s all to encourage people. The promo price for 500sqm in Scheme Three is N7.8 million. That’s a discount of about N2 million from what you have in Schemes One and Two,” he said.

Damiro further added that Propertymart, which has been in the real estate business for over 12 years doesn’t just sell land, but a lifestyle to its customer.

He said, “We have allocated over 6,000 homes and serviced plots since inception and we are glad that our customers have faith in us. We don’t just sell land. What we sell is a lifestyle. Before people move in, infrastructure is ready. Street light, roads, electrification, which means that even before you start building, you have a planned Estate where you can start dreaming of where to keep a home—your children, where they are going to play. Where you can get your groceries. What we sell every day is a lifestyle, not just the normal Omo Onile.”

Fairmont Hilltop Estate, Alagbado, is part of the ‘The Fairmont’ serviced plots strategically located in Arepo and Lekki-Ajah. They are not only affordable but also allow clients to live in safe, beautiful environments with well-defined perimeters.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor


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Pix: Head, Marketing Services, Palton Morgan Holdings, Oluwaseyi Otulana (left), and an allottee, Bosede Otusanya, at the physical allocation of plots of land to subscribers of Fairmont Hilltop Estate, Alagbado, Lagos, recently.

Stantec, AfDB to host webinar on climate change, green investment - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

A webinar to be hosted by Stantec and African Development Bank (AfDB) on building the momentum to enhance private sector participation in climate change and green investment in Africa, has got a date, reports 
NaijaAgroNet.


The workshop, 
NaijaAgroNet gathered, would present key findings on opportunities and challenges in climate change investment, in alignment with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Africa.

The Consultation workshop, 
NaijaAgroNet also gathered would showcase options for private sector investments in climate change, and has been slated for Thursday, June 25, 2020 by 1pm GMT.

The Climate Change and Green Growth Department of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), with the global infrastructure firm, Stantec, will host a consultation workshop on enhancing private sector participation in climate change and green investment in Africa on Thursday, 25 June 2020 from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm (Abidjan time).

The key findings expected would specifically come from the six pilot countries: Egypt, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa.

Since 2015, 54 African countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change while at least 44 of them have submitted their NDCs, committing to keeping global warming below 2°C. In Africa, it is estimated that the implementation of NDCs will cost about $3 trillion by 2030. All projections indicate that about 75% of this cost will come from the private sector.

The participation of the private sector in climate action in Africa needs to be supported and guided towards opportunities for green investments on the continent. The workshop will emphasize priority options and models to support NDCs-aligned private sector investments by presenting scoping studies in the six pilot countries and elsewhere on the African continent.

Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth, and Al-Hamndou Dorsouma, Manager of the Climate Change and Green Growth Division, will open the session. The meeting will gather the Bank’s country managers, key stakeholders from the private sector, public body representatives, and academics to build the momentum to scale up climate finance on the continent.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

SATO Tap debuts in Nigeria - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet
The SATO, LIXIL Group Corporation’s social business that aims to solve water, sanitation, and hygiene problems by providing affordable and easy-to-install sanitation systems to local communities around the world, has today introduced its new handwashing solution called the ‘SATO Tap’ reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to UNICEF, 40% of the world’s population still do not have access to basic handwashing facilities at home. In Nigeria, 73.5% of the population use contaminated water and live with poor sanitation facilities. To address this immense challenge, LIXIL has committed USD 1 million in line with its promise to support the commitments of development partners and others, which could impact 5 million people with improved handwashing.

“The COVID-19 situation underscores the vast inequities in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for households in Africa and globally. We know that washing your hands with soap is one of the effective interventions against disease transmission. By bringing SATO’s design and engineering expertise, combined with global LIXIL support, we aim to accelerate this new handwashing innovation to market, making it available to households to reinforce handwashing behaviour change and to refine it for long-term offering in the SATO product portfolio.” said Erin McCusker, Vice President & Head of SATO.

SATO has worked with partners during the design process, receiving valuable technical inputs and helping to validate the efficacy of the SATO Tap design which consists of a plastic base with a nozzle that can be fitted with widely available plastic bottles. It is compact and can be used both within the home and as a handwashing station at public facilities. The unique design ensures minimal contact between the user and the tap, thereby reducing the spread of disease, while the trickle action minimizes water use, meaning fewer refills, while maintaining a solid flow of water.

In addition to providing an affordable handwashing facility to disadvantaged households through the SATO Tap, LIXIL’s existing partnership with UNICEF will also expand activities in handwashing and sanitation in response to COVID-19. These activities range from collection of commercial and behavioral insights to strengthen behavior change, joint advocacy to promote hygiene programming and maximizing existing public and private sector networks and supply chains to expand access to handwashing.

“We know that one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of diseases is to wash your hands. But for the poorest and most vulnerable children and families, the immediate risk of COVID-19 is compounded by a lack of basic handwashing facilities,” said Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF, Associate Director, WASH. “This global pandemic has made it more essential than ever to work closely with governments and private sector partners, like LIXIL, to ensure handwashing is possible for all.”

Speaking on the need for innovative hygiene solutions, Daigo Ishiyama, Chief Technology and Marketing Officer SATO, said, “We believe the SATO Tap will help advocate life changing behavior. It will promote hygiene and reinforce handwash behavior change by mitigating risks while conserving water. Our vision is well-aligned with the Government of Nigeria’s vision and priorities for its people in promoting hygiene and advancing SDG 6 by 2030.”

The first SATO Taps will be manufactured in India, and will be made available for partners in September 2020, with ramp up of production and retail availability through early 2021. LIXIL is also working to establish other licensing partners to expand to other markets in Africa.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

POST-COVID-19: INWOAD says women, children most affected negatively - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet

The Initiative for Women’s Accelerated Development in Africa (INWOAD) has lamented that COVID-19 pandemic has most of its negative impact, largely on women and children, reports NaijaAgroNet.

INWOAD in a communique after its national zoom webinar, said that mostly affected by the lockdown as a result of the pandemic in Nigeria are women and children.

The communique endorsed by its Secretary and President, Ms Winny Fonaka and Ms Evelyn Onyilo respectively, pointed out that for women, their economic and social lives have been greatly affected causing a lot of hardships.

“Rape and sexual violence also reached alarming proportions,” INWOAD lamented, stressing that they are worried by this unfortunate development.

In addition, INWOAD resolved that:
1.       Covid 19 has generally affected women negatively socio-economically including increase in sexual and gender based violence. INWOAD condemns the escalation in cases of sexual abuse and calls on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on rape and gender based violence with immediate effect.

2.       The federal and state governments should immediately set up their response mechanisms to tackle rape by constituting stakeholders into the rape response committees to be headed by the honourable Minister of Women Affairs.

3.       Perpetrators of rape should be jailed for life without plea or option of fine to serve as deterrent to others. The states yet to adopt the Violence Against Persons Prohibition, VAPP Act and the Child Rights Act should do so without delay.

4.       In the interim, NAPTIP should be properly funded to handle rape cases and provide adequate shelter for victims and survivors nationwide.

5.       In the long term, a Commission or Agency on Sexual and Gender Based Violence should be established to properly handle issues of rape and provide rehabilitation and psycho social support to rape victims and survivors.

6.       INWOAD will continue to advocate and create awareness on the evil of rape on our women and vulnerable children to bring it to an end.

7.       We also recommend the following economic, humanitarian interventions as well as inclusion of women in governance to cushion the effect of Covid 19; The federal and state governments should include women, youth and relevant NGOs in the various Task Forces on Covid 19 Response to adequately cater for Women. The current composition of the Presidential Task Force PTF and other Covid 19 Committees nationwide is lopsided and discriminatory.

8.       Special soft loans and grants should be made available to women engaged in small and medium scale businesses to help them boost their economic base and mitigate the effect of the pandemic.

9.       INWOAD calls for the reintroduction and passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill in the National Assembly to protect the rights of women and remove all forms of discrimination against women.


10.   There is urgent need for collaboration and networking between NGOs and relevant government agencies to address the problems facing women and together seek legislation in protecting the rights of women and girls.

Nkem Nweke/Editor

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Rwanda: Pioneering gender equality with technology - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
 In 2020, it was the only African country ranked in the top 10 of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

It ranked in the top four in the Report’s political empowerment category, in recognition of the high proportion of Rwandese women lawmakers and ministers.

The country therefore seemed a natural fit for a 2018 pilot program of the African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment initiative, with Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

The Coding for Employment flagship program is establishing 130 ICT centers for excellence in Africa, training 234,000 youths for employability and entrepreneurship to create over 9 million jobs.

Hendrina C. Doroba, Manager in the Education, Human Capital and Employment Division at the Bank, explains how Rwanda is empowering women in technology.

How has the government of Rwanda enabled women to pursue careers in technology, and STEM in general?

The government of Rwanda has been a foremost champion of women in ICT and in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM), by driving initiatives like the establishment of the Carnegie Mellon University-Africa campus, for which the Bank provided funding. Students from 17 different countries pursue highly specialized ICT skills at the Africa campus.

The country also hosts the African Institute of Mathematics (AIMS) which is now recruiting balanced cohorts of women and men. Lastly, the Bank-funded University of Rwanda College of Science and Technology has for many years produced women leaders in the ICT sector in Rwanda and globally.

Rwanda’s government also supports initiatives such as the Miss Geek Rwanda competition, an initiative of Girls in ICT Rwanda, which aims to encourage school-age girls, even those in remote areas, to develop innovative tech or business ideas and to generally immerse themselves in ICT. The Miss Geek initiative has now been rolled out in other countries in the region.

What role has the Bank played in supporting Rwanda’s digital strategy, especially in relation to women?

The strategy of the Bank’s Coding for Employment center of excellence in Rwanda has been to join forces with the Rwanda Coding Academy through a grant agreement to support the school’s activities, like ICT equipment, teacher training and career orientation. The Rwanda Coding Academy started in January 2019 and has so far enrolled one cohort, which is now going into their second year.

Besides the Rwanda Coding Academy, the Bank’s Coding for Employment program held a two-day masterclass for girls and young women entrepreneurs at the 2018 Youth Conneckt summit, where over 200 beneficiaries were trained in using digital tools to amplify their businesses. The session was attended by women entrepreneurs as well as students from girl schools in Kigali, including those from White Dove School, which is an all-girl school fully dedicated to training in ICT. The masterclass culminated into a pitching exercises from various groups who presented their ideas to a panel of judges.

What lessons can other African countries learn from Rwanda’s approach to the 4IR, in particular the role of women?

The government of Rwanda has been a trailblazer in using innovation to improve public services across the country using the e-governance platform Irembo, to bring government services closer to citizens. In addition, the government is driving national digital skilling campaigns by championing digital ambassador programs and platforms such as Smart Africa, which has organized the annual Transform Africa summit since 2013.

Still, gender equality remains a concern, and gender gaps are evident even in schools. Rwanda’s ambitions extend to piloting the Kigali Innovation City, also Bank-funded, to serve as the country’s knowledge and innovation hub by attracting new businesses and incubating ideas. At the same time, the country has created a business environment which is pro-entrepreneurship and welcomes global inventors to test their ideas and concepts. Zipline, a company which uses drones to deliver medical supplies in remote areas, is one example.

Lastly, Rwanda promotes women leaders in the ICT and innovation sector. The country’s Minister of ICT and Innovation is a woman, as is the CEO of the Irembo platform. Appointments such as these are helping to dispel the myth that women are not as capable as men in ICT.

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Pix: Doroba