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Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Africa. Show all posts

Monday, April 20, 2020

AfDB commits 100% to renewable energy projects for Africa - NaijaAgroNet


The African Development Bank Group has recommitted to supporting renewable energy projects by 100 per cent on the continent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

AfDB in a refutal over alleged plans to provide financial support to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project,
declared ‘renewable energy as the future” path for Africa. 

The group through its Acting Director of Communication and External Relations Department, Mrs. Nafissatou Diouf, said the bank is strongly committed to renewable energies, noting that for over a decade, the bank has played a leading role in crafting policies and delivering investments that promote sustainable development practices on the continent, including climate adaptation and resilience.

“The Bank is committed to facilitating the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient development in African countries across all its operational priority areas,” she told 
NaijaAgroNet in a press statement.

AfDB maintained it did not have any plan to finance the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project, declaring that the group is for “100% renewable projects and sustainable, low-emission agriculture and infrastructure.”

The Bank, she equally said, has prioritized investment in renewables and has not invested in any coal project in the past decade as it sees renewable energy as the future.

“Since the launch of the Bank’s Strategy for the New Deal on Energy in 2016, up to 2019 renewable energy projects constitute about 85% percent on average of the Bank’s power generation investments,” she said,

Maintaining that the Bank is working closely with African countries to realize their renewable energy potential and has developed dedicated programmes and instruments to achieve this goal.


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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Energy Chambers demands better fiscal terms, incentives to encourage exploration - NaijaAgroNet

The African Energy Chamber has called for sustained fiscal reforms to attract capital and technology into exploration in the continent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The chambers in its African Energy Outlook 2020 available to NaijaAgroNet, showed that hundreds of blocks and acreages will be up for grab across Africa, from Senegal to Nigeria to Somalia. Competition will be fierce to attract capital from a diversifying basket of explorers now coming from North America, Europe, Russia, China, India, South East Asia and the Middle East.

In 2019, several African countries revised their legal and fiscal framework to incentivize exploration, as new world-class discoveries were yet again made on the continent. With the signing of no less than 9 PSCs in 2019 following the passing of its brand new Hydrocarbons Code, Gabon has shown that investors are ready to keep betting on Africa providing that the right legislation and framework are put in place.

In its Energy Outlook 2020, the Chamber notably stresses investors’ concerns over uncertain fiscal terms in sub-Saharan Africa, and calls on governments to find better ways to reconcile their expectations of short-term tax gains with the need for sustainable and long-term investment in exploration.

The importance of increasing exploration efforts cannot be under-estimated in Africa. The continent is the world’s hottest exploration frontier, with several discoveries made over the past few years. The world’s largest discovery this year was made off the coast of Mauritania by Kosmos Energy. It adds up to other large discoveries made this year by Noble Energy in Equatorial Guinea, or the Springfield Group in Ghana for instance.

“2020 needs to be a drilling year,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “Africa has the highest exploration success rates in the world. In basins like the MSGBC, international explorers like Kosmos Energy have even had a 100 percent success rate from all their exploratory drilling,” he added. “It is up to African governments and legislators to provide the right framework to keep attracting these kind of players ready to take risks and bet on our continent’s potential.”

Promoting and supporting exploration efforts across the continent is a key goal of the Chamber in 2020, as stated in its latest outlook for the sector.

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Monday, January 21, 2019

Africa must invest in rural development, agriculture for youth sake - NaijaAgroNet

The Africa countries must invest in rural development, and agriculture for youth sake and to checkmate the urban migration, reports NaijaAgroNet

The Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organistion (FAO) José Graziano da Silva said this at the weekend, highlighting the importance of focusing on the troubled areas of the Sahel.

As said by him by investing in rural areas and agriculture is crucial to achieve prosperity in Africa and to guarantee the continent's young people an alternative to migration.

"In Africa, we need to invest in rural development aimed at creating jobs and opportunities for young people to remain in rural areas" he said, stressing "We need youth for modern agriculture."

Speaking at the high level  EU-African Alliance in Agriculture event which is part of this week's Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin.

He noted that almost half of Africa's population remains extremely poor and food insecure.

Also, Graziano da Silva said that it is critical to channel public and private investments towards the agricultural sector.

Such interventions are particularly important in the Sahel area which is hit by the impacts of conflicts and climate change is very strong. 

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

NAIF to raise finance for high-impact nutrition businesses in Africa - NaijaAgroNet

 
Over 200 delegates, including dealmakers, entrepreneurs and investors will meet at the Nutrition Africa Investor Forum (NAIF) on October 16-17 – World Food Day -- in Nairobi, Kenya, to explore partnerships, access business finance and enter new markets, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Over these two days, selected Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from across Africa will have opportunities to participate in the first ever Scaling Up Nutrition Pitch Competition as well as The Nutrition Dealroom to meet venture capitalists and business financiers to improve their access to finance.

NAIF is a first-of-a-kind event, hosted by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in partnership with Royal DSM, the SUN Business Network (SBN) and African Business magazine, that aims to position nutrition as a promising new investment area. The event will bring together leaders from commerce, agri-food, development agencies, academia along with investors to share their experiences, present research results, explore collaborations and spark new ideas – all with the aim of developing new projects and attracting investment for high-impact nutrition businesses.

Malnutrition affects millions of children across the world. Africa alone has estimated that 58.7 million children under the age of five are stunted - having a low height for a given age - and 13.8 million who are wasting - low weight for a certain height. There is no doubt that stunted children today will lead to stunted economies tomorrow. In fact, African nations lose between 1.9% and 16% of the gross domestic product (GDP) annually to undernutrition due to increased mortality, absenteeism, chronic illnesses, and lost productivity. Governments alone cannot address this issue. Private sector investment is key to tackle this challenge. In fact, the nutrition sector offers tremendous opportunities to businesses.

There is a central role for business in tackling malnutrition in Africa, explains Fokko Wientjes, vice president of nutrition in emerging markets and public-private partnerships at Royal DSM.

“As scaling up nutrition action delivers at least $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent, nutrition-sensitive capital investments along the entire food value chain are likely to represent a tremendous purpose-driven investment opportunity. We will fundamentally integrate SDG 1 (poverty reduction) with SDG 2 (hunger & nutrition) by producing locally; Africa nourishes Africa.”

Africa’s demographic dividend is also an opportunity, Mr. Wientjes reveals, “There are more than 1 billion people in the current African consumer market. This is expected to increase to more than 2 billion by 2050. With 226 million people aged between 15 and 25 years, the continent also has the youngest population in the world. This represents enormous potential: a young, growing African consumer market that is more health-conscious, favouring nutritious and healthy foods. Emerging markets are the fastest urbanizing countries in the world. They are moving away from subsistence and smallholder farming and with that separating the producer from the consumer.”

In fact, SMEs, along with smallholder farmers, make up the bulk of the actors in the food system in developing and emerging markets. They play a key role as input suppliers, off-takers, processors, and distributors, which furthermore creates jobs and enhances regional economic growth.

Yet, barriers to accessing finance mean that agri-food SMEs are not achieving their full potential in developing and scaling up market-based solutions that can improve the consumption of safe and nutritious foods.

“We have a great opportunity to close that gap,” explains Dr. Lawrence Haddad, GAIN’s Executive Director, “by creating a sustainable food value chain and working through local agrifood industry SMEs, to ensure that nutritious foods are more accessible, affordable, and aspirational. 


To help this cause, GAIN has recently launched a Nutritious Foods Financing Program (https://bit.ly/2ObH8PK), which aims to build and maintain an investable pipeline of opportunities among agrifood SMEs, linking this to investors, leveraging blended finance options to help de-risk private investments, and providing technical assistance to investees”.

The Forum will also be host to two engagement channels to facilitate partnerships between high-impact nutrition businesses and venture capitalists and financers:
The Nutrition Dealroom will bring investors face-to-face with established small and medium growing businesses. This transaction and deal-making platform will showcase Africa’s fastest-growing enterprises working to improve nutrition in a sustainable and scalable way and aims to achieve tangible results by matching a curated portfolio of investment-ready companies with private sector investors.

The first Africa edition of the Scaling Up Nutrition Pitch Competition, will be launched. Organised by the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN), an initiative of GAIN and the UN World Food Program (WFP), plus local partners, the competition aims to showcase investment opportunities presented by SMEs working to improve access to nutritious food. Out of more than 450 outstanding entries, 21 SMEs have been shortlisted from national pitch competitions in Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia. 


Each entrepreneur will pitch their innovative nutritional investment opportunities to a panel of influential judges. The judges will select the overall winner who will be awarded with the title of SBN Nutrition Champion, which includes a travel and technical assistance prize. In addition, other top performing finalists stand a chance to win cash and technical assistance awards generously contributed by partners.

“Through years of experience working with African partners and governments, I am convinced that if we grow and support high impact businesses in food systems in Africa, we will be able to make inroads to reducing malnutrition,” concludes Dr. Haddad, “The potential is huge if we can get the investment recipe right”.
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Monday, August 13, 2018

FARA, NEPAD in high level joint advocacy for nutrition in Africa - NaijaAgroNet

As part of efforts to promote Food and Nutrition Security for Sustainable Agriculture on the continent, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), have joined forces in a high level advocacy for nutrition in Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

They jointly organised a one-day high level advocacy event during the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in in Cairo, Egypt, which saw notice on increased efforts and support from governments and stakeholders to improve nutrition and food systems are still needed.

The FARA Executive Director, Dr Abdulrazak Ibrahim noted that African governments and stakeholders have over the years been implementing several strategic interventions, among which include food fortification, dietary diversification, vitamin and mineral supplementation, public health interventions such as deworming and of late, biofortification.

He also said embracing food-based approaches should encompass biofortification in national and regional agriculture and nutrition policies, strategies, programmes and investment plans,’ was the theme of this event.

Chairperson of the PAP Committee on Agriculture, H.E Hon Kone Gognon, opened the meeting, saying that the theme for the meeting was pertinent, with a focus on ensuring food and nutrition security, pointing out that biofortification was already flagged as crucial in Africa.

Further, Dr. Ibrahim disclosed that FARA recognised the debilitating effects of hidden hunger, and highlighted FARA’s efforts, over the last years, in mainstreaming FNSSA within the National Agricultural and Innovation System (NAIS).

This was echoed by Dr Rose Omari, from FARA’s Building Nutritious Food Basket project, who elucidated the fact that micronutrient deficiency and its consequences are not widely known, as this is ‘hidden hunger.’

“Therefore, enhancing micronutrients content of staple crops during production is a critical intervention,” Dr Omari said.

Senior Advisor on Nutrition, Ms Bibi Giyose, who spoke on behalf of the NEPAD Agency’s CEO, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, brought to the fore the fact that nutrition should not be viewed as a technical issue, as it also has political, structural and numerous other dimensions that dictate the need to find multi-sectorial solutions.

Prof Francis Zotor from the University of Health and Allied Sciences and African Nutrition Society, expressed a similar sentiment with a call to strengthen synergies in moving the nutrition agenda forward on the continent.

Present at the event were legislators from the following countries: Central African Republic; Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.

The meeting concluded that while hidden hunger is real, reversing it is also possible to increase micronutrient content of commonly consumed foods through biofortification, especially to improve nutritional status of low income households will go a long way in redressing hidden hunger.

African Parliamentarians were called upon to follow up on declarations made by governments to ensure their implementation.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Climate change: Africa witnesses hottest temperature ever - NaijaAgroNet

The Africa has witnessed the hottest temperature ever, as the climate change seems to catch up with the most-black continent, reports NaijaAgroNet.
According to the Earth Day Network, Africa witnessed the hottest temperature ever reliably measured on Earth when Ouargla, Algeria hit 124.3 degrees.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that while no single temperature can be attributed to global warming, collectively these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see in a warming world.
That was why Earth Day Network said, its doubling-down on commitment to help cut carbon emissions and demand that our leaders support binding global climate change agreements now before it’s too late.

“Everything we do, from planting trees to cleaning up plastic pollution to protecting endangered animal habitats; aims to keep our climate stable and stave off the impacts of climate change,” they said.
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Monday, June 18, 2018

Experts stress impacts of drought in Africa region - NaijaAgroNet

The experts at the Foodand Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have given some insights into the impacts of drought for African continent and mostly the North East and North Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to them, agriculture is the first and worst hit sector when drought strikes, stressing that due to the impacts of drought, domestic food production has declined in the past four decades and rural populations' income dropped.

They noted that though oil supports a number of economies, agriculture is still an important part of the region's Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and essential for populations' food security.

Droughts are costly and can severely compromise the agricultural sectors,” they declared in a latest report made available to NaijaAgroNet, and endorsed by the FAO's Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Mr. Rene Castro.

Further, NaijaAgroNet gathered that the latest drought in Northern Africa, which was in 2015-2016, affected all countries and caused a significant drop in cereal production in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

As recently as the 1980s, 70 per cent of Mauritanians were nomads and subsistence farmers. In
the past three decades, recurrent droughts have forced many to move to cities where they suffer
due to high unemployment and a severe lack of social services,” they noted.

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Pix: FAO's Assistant Director-General, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Mr. Rene Castro

IFAD says Post Offices @forefront of remittance, financial services in rural Africa


The postal services can play a pivotal role in delivering remittances, lowering the transfer costs and providing access to basic financial services in Africa, says the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), reports NaijaAgroNet.

A joint report made available to NaijaAgroNet by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Commission (EC) on the occasion of the International Day of Family Remittances to be observed tomorrow.

The report, entitled ‘A success story on remittances at the post office in Africa,’ analyses the results achieved by African Postal Financial Services Initiative (APFSI), a joint programme led by IFAD and financed by the European Union (EU).

The programme, NaijaAgroNet gathered, has been implemented in 11 African countries in cooperation with the World Bank, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the Universal Postal Union and the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute.

NaijaAgroNet also reports that the APFSI programme has helped post offices develop more effective business models, upgrade their computer technology and connectivity, and improve their expertise in order to process real-time payments and offer and manage financial services.

"The remittance market is changing at a rapid pace,” said Pedro De Vasconcelos, Coordinator of the Financing Facility for Remittances at IFAD, pointing out that technology is transforming the payment systems and digitalized financial services are creating new opportunities.

“In this context, postal operators play a prominent role in delivering remittances to rural migrant families, providing them with financial services they rarely had access to,” Pedro said.

According to De Vasconcelos, the strong presence of post offices in remote and rural areas is extremely valuable. Their historic footprint helps build trust in the provision of rural financial services.

In 2017 alone, African migrant workers sent over US$70 billion to their families back home, representing an increase of more than 10 per cent from 2016 and more than 36 per cent over the past decade.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region in the world to send money home. In 2017 the average cost was 9.3 per cent of the amount sent.

As a result of the AFPSI joint programme, which has been implemented over the last five years, the cost of receiving remittances via post offices in four pilot countries, Benin, Ghana, Madagascar and Senegal,  decreased by 42 per cent and post offices delivered remittance services at an average cost of less than 5 per cent. This means an additional $35 million were available to migrant families between 2014 and 2016.

"The EU is committed to work with partners to lower the cost of remittances and promote faster, cheaper and safer transfers. Our collective objective is to reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs and eliminate remittance corridors with transfer costs higher than 5 per cent, as stated in the 2030 Agenda and the European Consensus for Development," said Stefano Signore, Head of Unit in charge of Migration and Employment in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development at the EC.

Financial inclusion remains a challenge in Africa. According to recent estimates, only 41 per cent of the population above 15 years of age has an account and access to formal financial services. In this context, postal operators have an important role to play, especially in rural areas. As a result of the joint programme, at least 100,000 adults opened new postal accounts accessing financial services for the first time.

"Having a savings account and access to credit is fundamental for families to invest in income-generating activities and build their future," said Mauro Martini, an IFAD expert on remittances and migrants’ investments and co-author of the report. "Remittances can be an engine for development."

Estimates show that while 75 per cent of remittances are generally spent on basic needs such as food, housing, health and education, another 25 per cent can be invested in asset-building or activities that generate income and jobs and transform economies, in particular in rural areas.


The EC began collaborating with IFAD in 2004, with the intention of increasing the development impact of remittances while enabling poor households in rural areas to access financial services. Since 2005, the EC has mobilized euro 9.5 million for IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances, including the APFSI. A new euro 15 million programme focusing on Africa will be launched soon to reduce costs further and improve financial inclusion and impact for development.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ebola outbreak: Africa CDC deploys experts to DRC

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is deploying 25 epidemiologists, laboratory experts, and anthropologists to support the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) efforts to control the recent Ebola virus outbreak in Mbandaka and Bikoro, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This, NaijaAgroNet gathered, followed the announcement on 8 May 2018 of the Ebola outbreak by the government of DRC.

According to Africa CDC, the deployment follows an assessment mission within 48 hours and activated Emergency Operational Centre to link, scan and monitor the situation.

“The global community needs to respond to this outbreak as a crisis and not as an emergency, by quickly deploying public health assets to the affected areas expiditiously”. I want to applaud the Minister of Health of the DRC for his exemplary leadership in managing this current outbreak so far. “All our efforts should be geared towards supporting his leadrship” said Dr. John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa CDC, upon his return this week, with a high level delegation, to the affected areas in Mbandaka and Bikoro.

The DRC government is working with partners to improve coordination mechanisms, enhance surveillance, laboratory confirmation, contact identification and follow-up, case management, infection prevention and control, safe and dignified burials, social mobilisation and community engagement, logistics, risk communication, vaccination, partner engagement, research and resource mobilisation.

During the Africa CDC team’s visits they assisted the Ministry of Health, together with other partners,  to develop three strategies: a) surveillance and contact tracing, b) Defining the various health areas affected, and c) laboratory testing and network. The Africa CDC will provide up to USD 2 million to support Africa CDC interventions. Due to the remote nature of the Equateur Province, it is expected that more efforts will need to be put in supply chain issues to ensure that essential items needed are delivered swiftly.

Last week the African Union Peace and Security Council was briefed on the situation and will continue to receive reports.  Under Article 6(f) relating to its mandate with regard to humanitarian action and disaster management the Council can authorise deployment of military and civilian missions and assets to tackle emergency situations as it did in August 2014 in the Ebola outbreak in the West Africa sub-region. This outbreak is the 9th outbreak of the Ebola virus disease over the last 4 decades in the country.
NaijaAgroNet also gathered that the affected health area of Bikoro covers 1 075 km and has a population of 163 065 inhabitants. This huge population is supported by only 3 hospitals and 19 health centres, most of which have limited functionality. 


The risk of speard of the virus is high at national and regional levels due in part to the proximity of the epidemic focus to the Congo River which links with the capitals of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. As such, Africa CDC is coordinating with these countries to ensure that their surveillance systems are activated and information is shared in real time.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

World Malaria Day 2018: Africa accounts for 90% of global malaria cases, deaths

Africa presently accounts for over 90 per cent of the global malaria cases and deaths, according to the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership to End Malaria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

They also informed NaijaAgroNet that malaria costed Africa’s economy US$ 12 billion per year in direct losses, and 1.3 per cent of lost annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

As the world marks malaria day, today, April 25, 2018, NaijaAgroNet reports that globally progress against malaria are being celebrated in order to encourage political, scientific and personal commitments to end the disease for good.

The Roll Back Malaria partnership equally noted that 25th April marks the tenth World Malaria Day and the culmination of a month of worldwide action against the disease at a time when global malaria cases are on the rise for the first time in a decade.

With the rallying call ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, NaijaAgroNet reports, is encouraging governments, health bodies, private sector companies and the public to accelerate progress against malaria, making this World Malaria Day even more vital.

“After a decade of success in pushing back malaria, it is on the rise again and will come back with a vengeance if we do not act decisively now,” warns Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

“Half the world is still threatened by malaria, an entirely preventable, treatable disease which takes a child’s life every two minutes. Worldwide action is needed to meet the 2030 target of reducing malaria cases by at least 90 per cent. We are delighted that more countries than ever, forty-four, are reporting less than 10,000 cases, however we must ensure we continue to press forward to end malaria – not only in highburden nations but also those on track to eliminate the disease. It is our global responsibility to consign malaria to the history books,” Admasu said.

Dr Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, RBM Partnership Board Chair comments, “This month has seen world leaders come together to renew commitments to step up funding and speed up innovations against the disease. It has been a truly momentous time in the fight against malaria, but the battle is not yet won. We also need citizen and community action around the world to drive momentum towards reaching global targets.

“The malaria fight is at a crossroads and we could be the generation to end the disease for good. If we don’t seize the moment now, our hard-won gains will be lost. We’re ready to beat malaria – are you?”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, says: “World Malaria Day reminds us of the challenges that remain. The declining trend in malaria cases and deaths has stalled and vital funding for malaria programmes has flat lined. If we continue along this path, we will lose the gains for which we have fought so hard.

“We call on countries and the global health community to close the critical gaps in the malaria response. Together we must ensure that no one is left behind in accessing lifesaving services to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria,” DG said.


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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Water infrastructure intelligent, wise move for Africa

The water infrastructure intelligent would have effect on water demands  on the continent, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The chief executive officer (CEO) for Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, Sabine Dall’Omo, gave this insight in South Africa, saying that the rapid urbanisation across the continent is expected to have effect on water demands, just as its estimated that by the year 2030, the world will need 40 per cent more water than its current accessible, reliable supply.

NaijaAgroNet also reported that compounding the issue, according to the UN’s Water for Life Report, is that approximately 300 of the 800 million inhabitants in Sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment. While in South Africa’s Western Cape region there is a drought that one meteorologist referred to as a once-in-628-years weather event.

“Water is vital to human existence. We depend on the resource to carry out important economic activities and provide proper sanitation, which are crucial elements to well-being and health.  If neglected there will far reaching implications for government, business and ultimately society,” Dall’Omo.

Awareness about the importance and finite availability of the resource are crucial to widespread behaviour change and necessary to ensure environmental sustainability, and capacity for future generations.  Water education should not be restricted to scientific or factual knowledge but be holistic and include decision makers, water technicians, communities, stakeholders and media to promote systemic change.

When a resource is in such short supply, managing and producing it effectively is essential. Digitalization of the existing infrastructure is just one water wise move for both the public and private sector.

The water industry has been focused on ushering in a new era of water management, with an emphasis on automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and more sophisticated data management and analysis software that enables the water end user or plant operator to have valuable, actionable information.

This proactive focus is driving digital transformation for both utilities and industrial plants, and enables them to not only detect and react to an issue when it occurs but also predict and prevent issues from occurring.

In South Africa, local municipalities are losing up to 36 per cent of bulk water due to pipe leaks and theft. Smart water management technologies and digital management systems combined with faster response times could dramatically increase water reliability and significantly reduce losses.

Prioritising the use of intelligent, networked systems will conserve energy, avoid water losses and curb resource consumption. By having a 360 degree view of a water system, solutions can be pre-emptively identified.

As we progress further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, agility and inventiveness will become a pivotal requirement for the new world order. Climate change and global water shortages are a collective concern.  In the latest World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, water crises ranks 20th as one of the risks respondents are most concerned about for doing business in their country in the next 10 years.

To overcome this risk we will need to deploy major innovations. Imagine using 3D virtual technology to see a realistic representation of an existing water plant and overlaying how automation, drives, pumps, instrumentation and electrical components can best be implemented to ensure positive outcomes.

In 2016, Siemens and Bentley Systems, a global leader in software solutions for advancing infrastructure, initiated a strategic alliance agreement to drive new business by accelerating digitalization. Bentley’s advanced knowledge in the field of water infrastructure means that customers are able to simulate processes in water plants allowing for predictive maintenance, resource optimization and energy data management.

Another way in which Siemens is catalysing creativity in the digital economy is through a recently hosted 48 hour hackathon - #DigihackAfrica2018 - which brought together Siemens engineers alongside IoT and digital industry experts from IBM, IoT.Nxt, Atos and Wits University to work on ideas that will have the potential to disrupt the IIoT environment in Africa. 

The winning team presented a decentralised intelligent water management system. The fully automated water accounting and leak detection system is made up of intelligently linked instrumentation from Siemens, flow meters and pressure transmitters linked to a GPRS 3G module that sends signals back to an in-house cloud based system. Through a mobile app, water technicians and engineers on the field will have real-time monitoring access to the flow of water in any water infrastructure network on a device. The winning team will travel to Siemens HQ to further develop their idea and receive seed capital towards making their idea commercially viable.

The value of investment in R&D in Africa to find solutions to the water crisis should not be underestimated. Being able to have foresight about future problems and develop solutions, with a uniquely African view and relevance, will provide the continent with a competitive edge.

Ultimately, effective and smart water management will enable governments and utilities to provide a safe and reliable resource to its people. Improved water stewardship pays high economic dividends and technology can help to make this happen. It seems like a smart start and a step in the right direction to find sustainable solutions that work for Africa and in Africa.


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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Africa: Scale up women's rights, nutrition activism

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, three African leaders and activists, Martin Chungong, Cameroonian Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and CEO of NEPAD Agency, and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), come together to celebrate rural and urban crusaders who have transformed women’s lives and call for more activists to speak up for gender equality to fight malnutrition across Africa.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate not only all women, but especially the activists – rural and urban, men and women – who are transforming women’s lives. Right now, women and men across Africa are part of a movement sweeping across the world for women’s rights, equality and justice.
You do not have to look far to see – or hear – women on the continent slowly breaking the silence, joining the #MeToo campaign on social media, raising their voices in unison alongside many men and against the status quo, organising for better representation in decision-making and demanding land rights and equal pay for work of equal value.
However, with the increase in hunger and food insecurity seen last year across parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time in decades – there are few rights as important to our future survival as the right to adequate food and good nutrition. This will not happen unless each woman and man, girl and boy is equally valued and has the same access to food. This means that, when we move from thinking to acting on nutrition and food security, we must also think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Throughout history, activism in Africa has yielded enormous results. Many women have fought for justice for women before us. Today this is not only a moral duty, it is the smart thing to do. Recently, countries such as Senegal and Tunisia have made strides in ensuring equal rights for both women and men. Rwanda has secured the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world, whilst women in Liberia and South Sudan have been at the forefront of peace and reconciliation efforts. In the words of Nelson Mandela – our ‘own’ Madiba – whose 100th birthday we will celebrate later this year, "freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression". Sadly, no country has achieved this freedom yet.

Where there is food insecurity, rural women and girls are disproportionally affected and more likely to experience the multiple burdens of malnutrition. They are often tasked with making sure every family and community member reaps the benefits of the best possible food and nutrients available and are involved at each stage of the food value chain – from farm to fork.
Although there are no large differences in the number of malnourished girls versus boys under five years old, the difference in power between males and females really becomes visible as girls reach adolescence. Malnourished mothers, especially those who have not attended secondary school, are more likely to give birth to malnourished girls and boys, perpetuating a vicious intergenerational cycle – with devastating effects for the brain power of the continent.
It is widely accepted that good nutrition is a maker and marker of sustainable development. What we now know is that gender equality is a maker and marker of good nutrition. With this knowledge, the main message we have for policy-makers, leaders and activists all over Africa is to scale up investments in women for better nutrition and food security everywhere. Yet, without empowering lawmakers to unblock resources from national budgets and putting in place the necessary means and policies in support of women and girls, no initiative will succeed.

Yesterday, we gathered together to address a high-level event of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Johannesburg. This Alliance has been tasked with ensuring that food security and nutrition remain at the highest level of both political and legislative agendas. We brought together a regional platform for African Members of Parliament to make sure that women’s and girls’ rights, needs and agency are at the front and centre of all actions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind. Recently, the publication Nature estimated that no single African country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030, due to large disparities within countries themselves. This is in spite of the fact that most African countries, especially much of sub-Saharan Africa and eastern and southern regions, have shown improvements.

As members of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement – a voluntary push for better nutrition which today counts 60 countries, many of whom are African – we know that successful nutrition approaches are those that have sought to address and eliminate gender inequalities. Much of the reduction in hunger worldwide between 1970 and 1995 is a result of improvements in women’s status and access to decision-making, including in parliaments. We know that if we give a girl access to secondary schooling, more than 25 per cent fewer girls and boys will be stunted, and will be able to develop normally. The evidence is clear. Now is the time to act.

International Women’s Day is not just a celebration but a reminder to us to remain activists in our own right, not only as heads of agencies which promote equality, but also as individuals. Together, let us empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and make improved nutrition a reality.

We commit to scaling up women’s rights and nutrition activism in Africa, and beyond. And hope you will do the same. The #TimeisNow for the #TheAfricaWeWant.

*Contributed by: Op-ed by Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Agency and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN)

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