The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, World Bank Group, and European Commission has launched the WB-EU Partnership for Evidence-Based Policy Making in Agriculture.

 

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has deployed the first batch of election observers of the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to Kenya.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Brazil-Africa Institute (BAI) have launched the Youth Technical Training Program (YTTP) - an initiative that aims to train young African professionals in research and technology transfer, contributing to local capacity development.

SOUTH AFRICA – Absa Bank Limited (www.Absa.co.za), a subsidiary of the Barclays Africa Group (BAGL) (www.BarclaysAfrica.com), has successfully concluded a five year $100 million Special Facility Agreement with the China Development Bank (CDB). 

Conflict, violence and disasters have caused more than 9 million new internal displacements globally in the first half of 2017, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

POLAND – The World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow has inscribed Hebron / Al Khalil Old town (Palestine) and W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (Benin, Burkina Faso) on the World Heritage List during its morning session. The Committee simultaneously added the site of Hebron / Al Khalil to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Swiss Federal Council has approved CHF 36 million contribution to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) for the 2017 to 2020 period.

Geneva-based oil and gas extractor Addax Petroleum has paid CHF31 million ($32 million) to settle a criminal investigation into allegations of corrupt payments in Nigeria. Geneva’s cantonal prosecutor has in return dropped the probe.

 

 

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By Tare Youdeowei

Asaba — Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Nicholas Azinge, has said hypertension and diabetes are major causes of blindness.

Azinge made this observation at Ellu, Isoko North Local Government Area, while celebrating this year's World Sight Day organised by Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria, OSN, Delta State Chapter.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Minnie Oseji,

Commending OSN for focusing its efforts on cataract, the commissioner said; "The data generated from the free eye care services put together by OSN as part of activities to mark the 2017 World Sight Day would greatly enhance statistics on eye care in the state and country."

Responding, Chairman OSN, Delta State Chapter and Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Delta State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Gloria Patrick-Ferife, disclosed that; "Over 2,000 persons were screened for cataract and surgery done for 25. More surgeries would be carried out before the end of the free services."

Stating the need for more professionals, Zonal Coordinator, OSN, Dr. Faith Ejegi, bemoaned the rate of blindness in the society and called on the state government to employ more Ophthalmologists, saying; "In a state of over five million people, only 15 Ophthalmologists are on ground in both government and private health institutions, including the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba and Delta State Teaching Hospital, Oghara."

The Chairman of the occasion and immediate past Secretary to the Government of Delta State, Comrade Ovuzuorie Macaulay thanked OSN for using their profession to give back to the society. "Leaders of oil bearing communities should utilize their share of oil revenue to boost the well being of their people. Deltans should desist from self medication and patronage of quacks to address eye problems because the eye is a very delicate organ and should only be handled by ophthalmologists," he said.

opinion

Johannesburg — Research focusing on traditional crops that are often ignored and known as "orphan crops" shows they contain minerals and vitamins that are essential for the body and are mostly consumed by rural African people. Various agricultural research institutions in Africa are currently carrying out research among these crops mainly to improve yields and controlling and lowering disease tolerance.

This is because there is need to urgently match Africa's booming population with adequate food systems because if people are well nourished they become healthy and productive which is good for development. As the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) puts it "good nutrition begins with food and agriculture".

The continent is the second most populous after Asia with about 2, 1 billion people. One in three people suffer from some form of malnutrition according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report. Societal costs of malnutrition have resulted in 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) being lost every year in Africa. Whereas the levels of stunting are generally on a decline over the past decade statistics are still unacceptably high with over 58 million of Africa's children stunted. Beyond the social cost, FAO notes that the cost to the global economy caused by malnutrition, as a result of lost productivity and direct health care costs, could account for as much as 5 percent of GDP equivalent to US$3.5 trillion per year or US$500 per person.

At the Graça Machel Trust we believe that good nutrition must start at an early stage, for example, the first 1000 days from conception to birth are very critical. We work with key regional partners to increase capacity and build up the institutional establishment of national civil society nutrition networks. Strengthening these national civil society nutrition networks helps to keep nutrition advocacy in Africa on the global agenda.

Innovation Now new research is looking at innovative ways to boost agricultural production to feed the continent's booming population by focusing on the orphaned crops that have been used for many years by Africa's poor to relieve famine. Agricultural research is mainly concerned at increasing yields, adding of essential nutrients otherwise known as crop Bio- fortification, and control and lowering of diseases. Research has particularly been targeted at traditional vegetables because there are highly nutritious. The Water Research Commission has identified three inter-related challenges in sub-Saharan Africa which are water scarcity, population growth, and food and nutritional insecurity of essential micronutrients one of it is vitamin A. This also means agricultural production needs to increase against a backdrop of issues such as climate change (extreme weather, flooding, and droughts), soil fertility depletion, and land degradation. The majority of Africa's population live in areas with poor soil fertility, and in addition, there are problems of access to capital and agricultural inputs and farming methods used by most Africans, which affects yields.

Traditional vegetables are capable of providing more than 50 percent of the recommended daily requirements of vitamins such as iron, zinc and beta carotene and they are also drought tolerant. Some of these vegetables are Chinese cabbage, pumpkin and water melon leaves, cowpea leaves and spider flower, which are widely eaten by mostly rural Africans in combination with thick maize meal porridge. These species often grow in the wild or as weeds, and collected for consumption as vegetables by African people. There are equally nutritious with iron, zinc and vitamins A and C and are also drought resistant.

The Water Research commission says: "The use of wild food forms part of the safety net that rural people use to cope with poverty, disaster and livelihood stress." And for many years researchers and policy makers have ignored these types of leafy vegetables, but during the past two decades this has changed, particularly in countries like Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. The Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, for example, is making an effort to promote the cultivation and utilization of these vegetables by farmers, especially women and other vulnerable groups to mitigate malnutrition, effects of climate change and create wealth for all participants along the entire value chain.

Researchers are also focusing on the sweet potato crop because it is the seventh most produced food crop in the world after maize, rice, wheat, potato, cassava and barley. That's according to FAO. And as a tuber crop it is the third most important after potato and cassava. It is a staple food in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It is also a common crop among poor farmers because it grows in marginal conditions with limited agricultural inputs and low labour requirements. And again, efforts are research is underway to improve sweet potato yield and make it more disease tolerant.

Sweet potato roots produce more edible energy per hectare per day than wheat, rice or cassava and contains considerable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, pro-vitamin A, Vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. It has been proven in many countries that Orange fleshed sweet potato variety, for instance, can be used to combat and alleviate vitamin A deficiency. This explains why Crop bio- fortification of sweet potatoes is in progress in most Sub-Saharan Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa.

This article was compiled by Regional Coordinator Women in Media Network Millie Phiri with the assistance of the Graca Machel Trust scholarship PHD student Sonia Naidoo and alumni Nadia Ibraimo.

ABOUT:

The Graça Machel Trust The Graça Machel Trust is an advocacy organisation that works across the continent to drive positive change across women's and children's rights, as well as governance and leadership. Through our support of local initiatives and connecting key stakeholders at a regional, national and sub-national level, we help to catalyse action where it is needed. By using our convening power the Trust seeks to amplify the voices of women and children in Africa; influence governance; and promote women's contributions and leadership in the economic social and political development of Africa.

ABOUT: Women in Media Network (WIMN) The Women in Media Network (WIMN) is the Trust's most recent network comprising 35 highly experienced journalists from 15 countries across Africa. A key focus of the network will be to challenge the current perceptions and mindsets about Africa's women and children and how they are portrayed in the media. We believe that through balanced storytelling we will be able shape a new reality - one that reflects more nuanced stories, told in the way that women want and deserve their stories to be told.

By Marelise Van Der Merwe

The start of 2017 saw concern over a sharp increase in the rise of drug- resistant TB in South Africa. TB is killing millions each year. Last week, Médecins Sans Frontières published promising early data on the use of two new TB drugs, delamanid and bedaquiline, among patients living with drug-resistant TB in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. But availability remains the biggest concern.

Sinethemba Kuse, 18, invited her friends and family to a celebratory party on 22 September. But it wasn't a birthday or graduation: the Khayelitsha teenager had taken the last of her TB medication.

Kuse was diagnosed with multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) just before Christmas when she was just 16. Her grandmother had lost all hope, she says. She thought Kuse was going to die.

It was already a difficult time. "I lost my aunt in December, the one I was living with because my mother died when I was still a baby," says Kuse. "The day my aunt was laid to rest, I started getting sick. I did not have an appetite. My skin colour was pale and I was shaking, sweating a lot at night. I did not enjoy all the things I...

By Sandra Petersmann

Somalia has been in the grip of a civil war since 1991. The state has disintegrated, leaving powerful clans to fill the vacuum. With the government weak and dysfunctional, the country is on the verge of another famine.

Nurses at Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, have rolled sheets of paper into small funnels and taped them over the hands of one of their patients. It's a way of preventing the emaciated child from pulling the feeding tube out of his nose.

"I didn't know what's wrong with him," said his mother, Faduma. "When I tried to feed him, he started vomiting immediately and he had diarrhea." The boy has also been diagnosed with pneumonia.

In a neighboring bed, Hawa squeezed a paste of energy-rich peanut butter into the mouth of her daughter, Xamdi. The three-year-old can now swallow by herself so nurses have removed the feeding tube she needed when she first arrived at the hospital 12 days ago. In the evenings, Xamdi's fever returns but at least she's gained some weight. She now tips the scales at seven kilograms - half of the normal weight for her age.

"There was nothing to eat at home and our children were getting weaker and weaker. That's when we decided to leave," said Hawa. The family walked for eight days under the cover of darkness - for fear of encountering Islamist al-Shabab fighters.

"We live out in the countryside with our animals. There's no hospital or help out there," Hawa said.

The families of Hawa and Faduma are nomadic herders. Used to water shortages and harsh conditions, they traditionally pack up and move their camel and goat herds in search of fresh pastures and water. "We're just focused on our animals. We follow the rain," said Hawa.

But it's raining less and less than it used to in Somalia. In the past three years, back-to-back droughts have swept the country and evidence is mounting that climate change is driving up the temperatures in the region, exacerbating the problems of the scarce rainfall. The Horn of Africa is turning into a dusty steppe.

As a result of this latest drought, Hawa and Faduma's families have lost almost all of their livestock, like many other nomadic pastoralists in Somalia. The lack of food is driving malnutrition and the lack of drinking water is accelerating outbreaks of diarrhea.

Preventable diseases

The families of Hawa and Faduma plan on returning home when their children are better. Many others though, have left their traditional lands in search of food and water, or to escape the country's long-running conflict.

Read more: Al-Shabab militants launch deadly attack on military base in Somalia

These internally displaced people are often living in terrible conditions, which is having devastating health effects.

"Most patients are living in overcrowded refugee camps, where there is not enough food or clean water," said Bishara Suleiman, a health coordinator for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Between January and July 2017, the 28 clinics supported by the ICRC in Somalia treated almost 37,000 people, mostly for acute respiratory illnesses and diarrhea.

"Malnutrition destroys the immune system," explained Bishara Suleiman. "Malnutrition itself is preventable but it is so widespread due to the collapse of the health system. Malnourished children and elderly people are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases, such as pneumonia or cholera."

Political failure worsens hunger

Since dictator Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, rival clans and warlords competing for power in Somalia have torn the country apart. Although the country has a new government since February 2017, it faces critical problems from Al-Shabab extremists seeking to establish an Islamic state to rampant corruption.

Both threaten the ability of humanitarian aid to arrive where its needed most. The Islamist militants have imposed a ban on aid in areas it controls. Elsewhere, middlemen and local authorities divert aid supplies for their own profit.

At a small market on the Via Roma in Mogadishu, for example, a 50 kilogram sack of rice intended as food aid from the World Food Program is on sale for $23 (19.50 euros). Buying in bulk earns a discount.

Michael Keating, the United Nations Special Envoy for Somalia, believes that widespread hunger in Somalia can be directly attributed to political failure.

"In functioning societies, in which the institutions work reliably and in which freedom of expression prevails, there is hardly any hunger," he said. "It is something that always affects the poorest and weakest members of society. It is a direct product of social, economic and political processes."

Difficult reconstruction

According to the UN, almost seven million people in Somalia, or half the population, currently depend on humanitarian aid. The Western-backed government, which has been in power since February 2017, wants to build a new, federal state. The general mood in Mogadishu is optimistic. Foreign diplomats and businessmen are flocking to the country, including crisis profiteers hoping to turn a quick profit. Rents are skyrocketing and a housing bubble has developed in the capital. Ministers and parliamentarians are also involved with construction projects.

Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman would like the international community to invest directly in the budget so as to prevent future hunger crises. "We are absolutely dependent on the trust of our international partners. If we don't get money to build the state, we can't be accused of corruption," he said.

His also suggests that international aid isn't free of corruption. "The flow of money through the many multilateral sources should also be reviewed. But the focus is always on corruption on the Somali side," he said.

Change takes time

More than 250,000 people died in Somalia's last major drought in 2011. Although the United Nations warned of a looming famine, the humanitarian response was late and ineffective for a variety of reasons.

Since then, the response to the drought has improved.

"We have spent four billion dollars on humanitarian aid since 2011," said UN emergency relief coordinator Peter de Clercq.

However, international emergency aid "cannot replace a functioning state," he warned.

"Think about where we would be today if we had invested four billion dollars in reconstructing Somalia? I am not saying that we should stop humanitarian aid. But we urgently have to invest in development," de Clercq said.

At the same time, he stressed that it's important to make plan for the long term.

"If we lack strategic patience, we won't succeed in Somalia."

By Francina Phiri

MANSA General Hospital has started modernising its operations with the installation of a paperless system known as Electronic Health Record System.

Speaking during the Smart Care Orientation Meeting, medical superintendent Humphrey Chanda told the members of staff that the electronic system would make it easier to locate patients' records.

The staff being oriented consisted of nurses, paramedics, clinicians and some classified daily employees.

Dr Chanda said that each patient would be given an electronic card holding their health record.

"The system is very safe and confidential, so patients have nothing to worry about," Dr Chanda said.

IT technicians and other officials from the Ministry of Health are at Mansa General Hospital installing the smart care system, which will be operational soon in all the departments at the hospital.

Dr Chanda also urged the staff members to help patients understand how the electronic cards operated.

Over 100,000 people living with HIV are reportedly defaulting on treatment due to a critical shortage of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs which has hit Zimbabwean hospitals.

The crisis was revealed at a press briefing in Harare Wednesday which was called by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) and Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DMCCP).

Some DMCCP members said they had gone for two weeks without treatment.

"When we visit a hospital where we collect our medication we are told that there is no medication. And when it is there, we are given a two days' supply as opposed to the normal three months' supply," said a DMCCP member living with HIV.

"The situation was worse last week on the 16th of September when we failed to get even a single pill. We went back the following week and were given two ARV tablets per person.

"The other issue which is worrying us is that they are using waste collecting vehicles to deliver ARVs and other medication from Mutare central to rural clinics."

Another patient said corruption was rampant at rural clinics where they get their medication.

"What is also disappointing us is that hospital staff are given their three-months supply of the ARVs but they then sell the drugs to us the less privileged.

"We are now not sure if we are able to see our young children grow if the situation remains like this," said another patient.

Sabastian Chinhaire, the chairperson of ZNNP+ said the situation was now uncontrollable.

"Over the past two months, we have noted with concern that thousands of people living with HIV have been caught up in the ongoing shortages of the life-saving second line ARV drug.

"We are equally concerned that the country will not be able to cope if the clients on second line have to be moved to third line due to treatment failure and an increase in defaulters due to unavailability of treatment in public health institutions," said Chinhaire.

National AIDS Council official, Trust Govere, recently told journalists that ARV shortages were being caused by the dwindling AIDS levy revenue collection which constitutes 24% of AIDS treatment procurement.

Govere said AIDS levy revenue collection has been going down since the end of the inclusive government in 2013.

Some 1.3 million people are living with HIV in the country with 981,000 are on treatment.

Out of the 981,000 on treatment 135,000 of them are on second line ARV therapy - a treatment given to those who would have developed some resistance to the initial drug treatment.

Photo: RFI

Cassette of Somali music, from the Red Sea Cultural Foundation archives, Hargeisa

By Alison Hird

In the 70s and 80s, before Somalia was torn apart by civil war, the east African country had a vibrant pop music culture; bars and clubs flourished in Mogadishu and Hargeisa. That "swinging Somalia" has been captured on the compilation Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa. Vik Sohonie from Ostinato Records told RFI about the treasure trove and how it was uncovered.

The compilation of 15 songs (16 on the vinyl edition!) includes some of Somalia's biggest time of the time. Bands like Iftiin, Dur Dur, Sharero, Waaberi and female songbirds like Faadumo Qaasim and Hibo Nuura whose voices were poetically described as "sweet as broken dates".

The music "tells us the best concise story of what was happening in Somali culture before the war," says Vik Sohonie.

"You had a city and a country that were doing something that was at the very forefront of global popular culture."

He says Somali culture is 'a culture of songwriters and theatre', intrinsically artistic and poetry-driven. Mohamed Siad Barre built on that when he came to power in 1969, nearly a decade after independence. His military regime took control of the music industry and set about developing it.

"You had a government in place that was really promoting the arts as a way of decolonising the country," Sohonie explains.

"What resulted was this incredible burst of youthful euphoria, which culminated in this incredible arts scene, endless amounts of bands and singers."

And Mogadishu provided an ideal setting for that music to flourish.

"Mogadishu was still a very beautiful city at the time," Sohonie continues, "with lavish hotels where well-heeled tourists as well as the Somali upper crust were able to go and enjoy these bands."

Precursors of reggae?

Bands developed their own unique style, reinterpreting traditional Somali melodies, incorporating a lot of the popular global sounds of the era such as funk and soul.

One genre known as dhaanto, an ancient Somali folk song, was reworked by bands such as Danan Hargeysa and shares similar rhythms to reggae. In fact, some musicians of the time maintain dhaanto came before reggae.

"It developed in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia but was perfected in the north of what is today Somaliland," says Sohonie. "And when we spoke to [some musicians from the north] and asked them 'were you guys listening to Jamaican reggae, Bob Marley, because it has that off beat sound to it?' they would almost get offended.

They said 'no we've been producing dhaanto far longer than perhaps Jamaica has been producing reggae'. But they said 'you know there's no difference between dhaanto and reggae, it's the same rhythm'."

Bands like Waaberi were quick to use the synths that were becoming so popular across the Atlantic.

Singer Hibo Nuura gained notoriety lending her soaring vocals to the Waaberi.

"The reason I adopted electronic music was because I had the versatility to be able to sing in many tones," she told Sohonie in an interview for the liner notes accompanying the album.

Rediscovering the lost music

With the outbreak of civil war in 1988, live music performance ground to a halt and many musicians fled abroad. And since very little music had been published under what was basically a nationalised music industry, all traces of this golden age of Somali pop could have been wiped out.

Thankfully some recordings, for the most part cassettes, had been hidden away by a few dedicated music lovers.

"A lot of these cassettes were dispatched to neighbouring countries like Djibouti and Ethiopia during the war to keep them safe," says Sohonie. They would later find a haven at the Red Sea Cultural Foundation in Hargeysa, now home to some 10,000 recordings.

"Some of this project came from an operator who worked at Radio Hargeisa, his private collection, some of them came from tapes in the diaspora, but the majority of this album is from this archive in Hargeisa."

Along with music researcher Nicolas Sheikholeslami, Sohonie began the long process of digitalizing the archives in a bid to conserve this remarkable period in Somali's pre-war history.

"Somalis are very well aware of the power of their music and culture, but the whole world needs to know that," says Sohonie.

"What drew me to the project was being able to tell a beautiful story of what a country was before its twenty or thirty years of war and famine and other unspeakable tragedies. And I think it's really important to recognise that a country should not be defined by its history of 20 to 30 years. If we just peak back a little more we can define people by their culture and music."

Where are they now?

Ostinato records has made every attempt to source the published music. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the artists are living abroad: in Europe (mainly the UK), Dubai, and the US.

They've taken many different avenues.

"Some, like the keyboard player Jerry now plays piano at a hotel bar in Dubai," says Sohonie. "Abdunour Daljeer who's the founder of Dur Dur band runs a small shop in Ohio. He's still trying to get his band back together to produce music."

Hibo Nuura lives in Minneapolis in the US and while she's no longer singing, looks back on the "swinging Somali" years with fondness.

"My peak was from about 1976 to about 1988. It was the best time I can describe because the love that as poured all over me," she told Sohonie. "All that adulation took me to heaven. Even until today, even though I don't sing, people still know me and love (me) as much, and that's something I cannot replace."

And, sign of the times in what was also something of a golden age for women, she says she "did not face any discrimination as a woman, not a single episode of negativity."

For others, the memories are bittersweet.

"In 1986 we played all kinds of genres - Reggae, R&B, Blues, and Pop... the audience in Hargeysa liked this type of music," recalls Cabdinaasir Maalin Caydiid from Danan Hargeisa band.

But the civil war changed everything, including people's attitudes to music and musicians.

"I was in a village outside of Hargeisa and I saw my kaban (Somali oud) - it was being used as a container to scoop water."

On returning to the city after the war he struggled to find work.

"We tried to re-organise Danan, but some people were against us and we did not succeed."

Sohonie says it can be painful for older musicians in particular to recall that period.

"There's almost a reluctance to continue producing music or look back at this time, because as fond a memory as it is, it's also attached to a lot of hurt and pain. Perhaps some musicians want to keep that in the past."

The compilation Sweet as Broken Dates, Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa goes some way to repairing that sense of injustice, highlighting the contribution of these Somali musicians made to 70s and 80s global pop.

Globacom recently gave residents of Ibadan a night to remember as it held its flagship music concert, Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour, with Olamide Adedeji, Runtown and other music superstars.

The Jogor Event Centre, Ibadan, welcomed a capacity audience which seized the opportunity of the show to celebrate the Independence Anniversary with their music idols including the Egberi Papa 1 of Bayelsa, Inetimi Alfred Odon (Timaya); Yemi Alade and the new Rhythm and Blues sensation in Nigeria, Axterix.

While Nollywood legend, Richard Mofe-Damijo (RMD), most celebrated Yoruba movie actor, Odunlade Adekola, and another popular Yoruba movie star, Bolaji Amusan, known popularly as Mr. Latin, came as celebrity guests, the remarkable show had DJ Tops on the jukebox as the delectable duo of Nollywood divas, Ebube Nwagbo and Mercy Johnson-Okojie, compered the show. Mercy dazzled the audience when she spoke flawless Yoruba language interlaced with humorous Ibadan inflections and the trademark Ibadan call and response greeting line, kini soo to which the excited crowd responded Soo nsure!.

Axterix kicked off the show closely followed by the energetic female vocalist, Yemi Eberechi Alade, who came to the city with the full complement of her band of talented choreographers.

Douglas Jack Agu, a.k.a. Runtown, left no one in doubt that he had what it took to musically run the town as he put up such a beautiful performance that got the entire audience on their feet shuffling and gyrating to the rhythmic beats. His tracks, The Activity Pikin andSuperwoman, were the clincher as the crowd sang excitedly along with him.

King of the streets, Olamide, literally set the hall on fire when he sauntered onto the stage with his band as he hailed the "Omo Hobe" who surged forward to bond with the Shakiti Bobo and Skekeloboske exponent. As he traversed the full repertoire of his music from First of All, Voice of the Streets, Stupid Love, Durosoke to Alowomajaye and other hit tracks, the audience called for more.

Timaya put the icing on the show when he came on stage to join Olamide with whom he did a collabo before moving to his hit tracks and adding some spiritual flavour to the evening with some church choruses which got the crowd in a praise mood into the opening hours of October 1.

By Mohalenyane Phakela

THE second edition of the Fashion Meets Music Lesotho (FMML) show which will be held on 11 November at Lehakoe Recreation Club is expected to feature fashion designers from various African countries.

FMML was launched last year by fashion houses, Quiteria & George and Dazzle Collection as a platform to promote fashion and music in the country.

Quiteria & George is a fashion outfit owned by Lesotho-born, Quiteria Kekana, and South African, George Malelu.

It has dressed South African celebrities that include Boitumelo Thulo, Terry Pheto and Nomuzi Mabena as well as local beauty queens, Mojabeng Senekal, and Miss Lesotho 2017, Mpoi Mahao.

Dazzle Collection was launched in 2015 in Maseru and is owned by South African-born creative director, Mapula Mofokeng-Lebona and designer, Delma Tshabalala.

Event director, Motšoane Lebona, this week said they had invited designers from countries such as Mozambique, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Nigeria.

"The event is specifically designed to promote the work of Lesotho's fashion designers, especially design students to educate them through practical experience," Lebona said.

"The aim is to familiarise them with the industry so that they can grow to become sought-after designers. That is why we invited designers from other countries to weigh in with international competency.

"Furthermore, FMML seeks to blend fashion with the development of music artistes based in the country. The artistes have the opportunity to perform alongside famous musicians from the continent. Last year local artistes shared the stage with South Africa's Motswako pioneer, HHP."

Liteboho Molise, who plays Teboho in South African popular soapie, Muvhango, was one of the MCs. She recently send a video message on the organisers' page asking people to support the initiative so as to develop local talent.

"While I was MC at the 2016 edition of Fashion Meets Music, I realised that there is so much talent in Lesotho that needs nurturing and exposure to take on the rest of the continent.

"I was also captivated by the musical talent with Nirex being my favourite of the night.

"Let us support the initiative which gives Basotho designers and musicians platform and let's make it bigger this time," Molise said.

By Editor

The Lagos State government has announced plans to honour the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, as the weeklong activities marking his 79th posthumous birthday and the 20th anniversary of his death draw to a close.

In a statement issued yesterday by the state's Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, the government said the honour is in line with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode's commitment to promote art and tourism and to celebrate iconic figures in politics, economics and culture sectors who have contributed to the image and development of Lagos State.

According to the Commissioner, Governor Ambode will on Sunday, October 15, 2017, unveil a statue in Fela's memory at the Allen Roundabout in Ikeja.The governor will also pay a visit to the Kalakuta Museum on Gbemisola Street, Ikeja where he will join family and Fela devotees in homage to the music icon.

The day will be rounded off with a Special Lagos Jump - a musical tribute to the man affectionately called "Abami Eda" - at the Afrika Shrine in Agidingi, Ikeja to draw the curtain on the 2017 edition of Felabration.

According to Ayorinde, "Fela did not only capture the global audience as a charismatic and energetic musician using Lagos as his base; he was revered for fighting against corruption and oppression even at the risk of imprisonment or death. His creativity, courage, passion and extraordinary ability to rise against the odds are trademarks of a true Lagosian".

He added that it was in recognition of Fela's contributions that Fela! The Broadway Musical Concert was staged at Eko Hotels in April 2017 as part of the celebration of Lagos at 50 and Lagos State also supported the London Edition of Felabration during the last Nottinghill Carnival.The state government also pointed out that the unveiling of the Fela statue at Allen Roundabout is in keeping with its commitment to promoting public monuments.

Echoing the words of Governor Ambode during the commissioning of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo statue in September, Ayorinde said the state government would continue to recognise the legacies of its heroes past and would continue to encourage artists to be involved in changing the state's landscape through public art.

According to the Commissioner, "Fela is a global icon and one of the biggest success stories from Lagos. Monuments are erected across the State to remember the contributions of people like him to preserve their legacies and our history as a people."

Standing at 25 feet and titled 'Liberation', the statue is done in fibreglass by artist Abolore Sobayo of Cowrie Studios as "an iconic legacy to celebrate Fela's unique dress sense and style of salute."

Have you ever heard the word "paraskevidekatriaphobia"? Never mind trying to pronounce it. It is a strange word indeed and it is found in the world of superstition, referring to the fear associated with Friday the 13th in some Western beliefs.

And local musician Jah Prayzah seems unmoved with that strange word. In fact, instead of labouring to pronounce "paraskevidekatriaphobia" and getting worried about threats of unlucky events that some people associate with Friday the 13th, Jah Prayzah will be shouting "Kutonga Kwaro", an album that he launches at the Harare International Conference Centre tonight. It will be the musician's big day.

"Kutonga Kwaro" is Jah Prayzah's eighth album and it comes 61 weeks after the release of his previous album "Mdara Vachauya" that was launched at the same venue on August 12, 2016 with Tanzania's Diamond Platnumz as the guest international performer. This time Jah Prayzah has invited Nigerian singer Davido, who is expected to grace tonight's concert that will also feature musicians from Military Touch Movement.

Diamond Platnumz came after he had done "Watora Mari" with Jah Prayzah and, in similar fashion, Davido comes after their collaboration, "My Lilly", whose video will also be launched tonight. Yesterday Jah Prayzah was ecstatic about the launch.

"The big day has come. Many people have been waiting for the album and I am happy that we will be unveiling it at HICC. It is great to have Davido with us at the launch. We worked well with him when we did the collaboration. We have planned to perform the collaboration and we know people will love it. We have done our best on the album and we hope our fans will like it."

To add style to the event, Jah Prayzah has engaged the services of renowned producer Tembani Mubochwa who has made outfits that the musician will don tonight. Mubochwa recently made waves at a fashion show in Ethiopia and his star is shining. Organisers of the show, 2Kings Entertainment, said they are looking forward to a great event.

"We want to make sure that the show becomes an event to remember and we will do our best to facilitate what the artistes request for," said Dee Nosh of 2Kings Entertainment. There are a number of acts that will be on stage and we are taking each segment of the show as a special act. Davido did well the last time he came and it will be a more special event because this time he has a collaboration with a local musician."

By Lovejoy Mutongwiza

Zingoma Gospel Hub, a social media conglomerate of gospel artists, will on 28 October 2017 hold a free gospel musicians seminar to address challenges faced by the artists.

Running under the theme "Uniting for a common cause", the seminar will cover music distribution and marketing, quality music production and organising successful gospel music shows among other topics.

Coordinator of the event, Fulton Bheme said the seminar was organised to offer advise to artists on how they can produce quality music, selecting producers, assembling music groups and music arrangement.

"A number of changes have occurred over the years that have greatly affected quality music production. Whilst the emergency of many studios is a welcome development, quality music production has also suffered with it.

"Another predicament facing gospel musicians is revenue to sustain their work and livelihood. In the past artists' main sources of revenue have been music sales, shows and to a lesser extend royalties from air play.

"However, music piracy and technological developments have greatly affected music sales. The seminar will address alternative channels of music distribution and sales, so that artists salvage something from their efforts," said Bheme.

The Gospel Musicians Seminar will help artists with ways to market their music. This will address all issues from product packaging, pricing and promotion.

It will also look at how social media and the web at large can be used to market artists' music.

There have flops after flops at some gospel music concerts and this has resulted in less gospel music concerts and festivals.

opinion By Atukwei Okai

Accra — As the school year began this September, there was welcome news for Ghana's nearly half-million students entering high school: President Nana Akufo-Addo had fulfilled his campaign promise of free secondary education for children nationwide. He swore not only to do away with admissions fees, but also to provide free textbooks and meals, the cost of which had often remained a barrier for the poorest students.

Ghana had introduced free compulsory education at the primary and junior high school levels in 1995, but implementation had been painfully slow - and students' educational dreams were often cut off before high school. Even in 2014, only 37% of the nation's students were enrolled in secondary school, owing to high fees. The president's move is thus an inspiring example that Ghana's neighbors should follow.

Unfortunately, despite progressive reforms like these, students across Africa still face other steep barriers to a truly comprehensive education. In Ghana, for example, poor and rural children are unlikely to reap the full benefits of their new access to secondary education.

The situation is arguably worse elsewhere on the continent. The issue is not only lack of access to schools, but also lack of good schools. The results of a staggering new report from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics shows that six out of ten children and adolescents around the world - 600 million in total - are not achieving basic skills in mathematics and reading. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that 88% of children and teenagers will enter adulthood without basic literacy.

This constitutes a moral and development crisis that demands immediate action. Having served as head of the department of Ga-Dangme education at the University of Education in Winneba, I know from first-hand experience that one of the main problems is lack of education and absenteeism among teachers themselves. The World Bank, which similarly raised the issue of "schooling without learning" in a new report, has corroborated my view.

Addressing this issue requires investing more in teachers' colleges, promoting teaching as the career of nation-builders, and encouraging the best and brightest students to aspire to a teaching career. We cannot expect students to learn from poorly educated, poorly paid teachers. We must also invest more in resources for schools and learning across the board, from scholarships for poor students to new libraries and classroom equipment.

With so many African governments already failing to provide equal, high-quality access to education for their citizens, this is not a challenge that they can take on alone. As the continent's population booms - half of the world's population growth between 2017 and 2050 is expected to occur here - African heads of state will have to work closely with key allies and multilateral organizations to bring in funding and share know-how.

Fortunately, with the launch of the UNESCO report, several partners have already stepped up. French President Emmanuel Macron is perhaps the most prominent of those who have promised to make investment in education in Africa a high priority.

As the UN's main educational and cultural organization, UNESCO itself will play a key role in promoting initiatives to bring free, high-quality schooling to students across the continent. And whoever takes over UNESCO, following the election of a new director-general next month, will have a make-or-break opportunity to craft the right agenda to meet this challenge. Currently, the organization is mired in a financial crisis and internecine disputes, and it will need a leader who has the vision to solve both internal and external problems.

Notably, France's candidate, former Minister of Culture and Communication Audrey Azoulay, has put both UNESCO's internal crisis and education at the top of her agenda. She has singled out the financial crisis as the biggest threat facing UNESCO and has stressed the need for greater dialogue with members in arrears, like the United States.

In her previous governmental roles, Azoulay helped launch a global plan for cultural diversity through books and introduced plans to protect cultural heritage in conflict zones. Azoulay also has called for UNESCO to treat education as a catalyst for development and gender equality, and as the best way to help combat the "radicalization of the mind." If elected, she has promised to put Sustainable Development Goal 4 - universal quality education - at the heart of UNESCO's mission, with a special focus on Africa.

The preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO declares, "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." Unfortunately, in Africa, we know all too well what happens when efforts to construct the defenses of peace ultimately fail.

Islamist insurgents continue to pose a threat to Mali, where in 2013, they set fire to a library holding thousands of priceless historical manuscripts in the ancient cultural center of Timbuktu. The incident was not only a devastating blow to world heritage; it was also a reminder of Africa's history as a center for cultural exchange, literacy, and learning, and a call to action.

The stakes for Africa are high. Our children are threatened not only by lack of access to schools, but also by lack of opportunities to learn, and by the loss of irreplaceable fragments of their rich history. We must hope that more governments follow Ghana's example, that more allies like France increase their support, and that the new director general will place a high priority on UNESCO's missions in Africa, which are more critical than ever. Project Syndicate

Atukwei Okai, an award-winning poet, is Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers' Association.

By Anjoya Mwanza

Nkhotakota — Dwangwa Primary School commonly known as JP (Junior Primary) is right at the centre of Dwangwa Township, a busy sugarcane growing and processing area in Nkhotakota.

With more than 20 years of existence, this learning facility still accommodates classes from standard one to five only hence the name JP.

The school has refused to grow despite ever growing figures of enrolment, leaving its learners crammed in the few structures it has.

Inadequate infrastructure and materials

Currently, there are six blocks of two classrooms each.

With enrolment pegged at a staggering 2930 during the 2016/2017 academic year, the school continues to use old facilities and resources except for two new blocks which are taking ages to finish.

Before 1997, the school used to operate in church structures until that year when a structure was built. As of two years ago, the old structures only counted to five.

The school's administration, with support from school management committee, tries to make sure that there are makeshift shades to protect those learning outside conventional classrooms from heat. Maintenance of the shades is erratic because they are expensive.

Teachers' houses are few. The school has 31 teachers with only two housed within the school premises, according to head teacher Benedicto Meramera.

"The deputy head teacher and I are the only lucky staff members to reside at the school's campus," Meramera says.

The school teachers' office is a tiny, shabby structure without proper definition. It is a room with no plastered walls and has two tiny single desks accommodating only the head and his deputy.

Entering into the office, one would think it was just detached from adjacent classrooms but history says it was a store room.

Furthermore, the office is untidy with poor circulation of fresh air. The two small windows have inadequate windowpanes and find honour because of the iron sheets that cover part of the openings.

Learners at JP envy those schools that have desks and chairs because they endure their learning hours planted on the floor. There is no single desk for learners.

Teachers are lucky because they use desks belonging to one of the churches that pray at the school premises during weekends.

The absence of a brick fence makes the school a sitting duck to vandalism. With the school blocks unlocked all the time, anyone can access the classrooms any time without fear.

Poor sanitation and hygiene

Dwangwa JP has few substandard toilets that add to its sorry state by compromising sanitation and hygiene.

The school has two toilets for 1397 boys. This translates to a toilet pupil ratio of 1 to 700 against the recommended ratio of 1 to 60.

As if that is not enough, the school shares most of its toilets with the community. It is very close to residential areas and the toilets are just a walk-in for people from surrounding areas to drop their wasted world.

The two toilets have no doors probably because the community members do not like to see them closed.

"They always break the doors and remove them completely. Staying close to the school make them feel that they have earned the right to use the toilets any time and anyhow," says the head teacher.

The school management committee thought of constructing urinals for boys to improve the situation but it is proving a tall order because the facilities have already been turned into new toilets by passersby and community members.

For girls, the school has five toilets but their conditions do not differ from boys' toilets despite having a ratio of 1 to 308.

The girls' toilets are also not immune to outside intrusion and indecency. The screaming of painted big words "Girls' toilet" counts for nothing because patronage is more male than female.

There are no washing facilities around the sanitary rooms; the available water tap is completely dry because huge water bills choked it to dormancy more than a year ago.

Any hope for a drop of water remains far-fetched because no one is coming forward to settle the bills.

"We used to pay the water bills using school management funds or School Improvement Grants (SIG). Unfortunately, the water bills accumulated during the construction of the unfinished classroom block were so huge.

We could not manage to pay any more hence the disconnection about two years ago," says Meramera adding that the bill is MK58, 000.

The only borehole that they could have pinned their hopes at the school decided to stop functioning several years back, leaving learners vulnerable to waterborne diseases.

As an alternative, every child is requested to bring drinking water when coming to school.

Politics of development

Efforts to upgrade the school to full primary by expanding and sprucing up its infrastructure have always been trapped in the politics of development.

The school maintained the Junior Primary status until 2015 when Member of Parliament for the area, which is Nkhotakota North, Frank Mphande declared that he would construct more classrooms using Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

"The proposal to turn the school into a full primary school came from the community members themselves.

Teachers, parents and guardians expressed concern that their children walked long distances to access senior primary education from surrounding schools and that there is congestion," says Mphande.

Two new classroom blocks constructed with CDF stand unfinished. So far, the amount of money released is not yet known.

Mphande states that he need to consult his documents to come with exact figures.

He says some materials for the project are already available.

"Currently there are windows and frames for the classroom block," says the law maker adding that he handed over the project to school management committee and councilor for the area, Nkhunga Ward, Charles Kamija.

Councilor Kamija says the project will recommence soon because they have "some materials like cement and window blocks for the classroom blocks ready."

"The project will be through anytime from today," says Kamija.

While MP Mphande asks community members to own the school by assisting with some minor issues that need few resources, secretary for the School Management Committee Apostle Michael Nyirenda says the committee has been sidelined in the project.

"The committee is not involved when planning and procuring materials. Resources are procured and that the structure is being erected without our knowledge," says Nyirenda.

The committee intends to implement its own initiated project. It is working tirelessly to construct a teacher's house after realizing that their proposals to seek support from companies around Dwangwa have yielded nothing.

Whatever the politics, this school needs saving for it to meet required standards for delivery of quality education through adequate teaching and learning facilities.

By Stellar Murumba

The budget for school laptops has been slashed by half to Sh6.7 billion in the year ending June, becoming one of the biggest casualties of the reorganised expenditure plans.

The Treasury had allocated an additional Sh13.4 billion to the Jubilee government flagship programme in financial year 2016/2017, down from Sh17 billion the previous year.

The National Assembly has further cut it through the supplementary budget aimed at freeing funds to run the repeat presidential election set for October 26 and other more urgent programmes.

The Jubilee administration promised to deliver one laptop per Class One pupil upon its election in 2013 but the programme has been dogged by delays over costs.

Its implementation started in May last year with 150 selected schools, setting stage for a national rollout.

The reckons the free laptops have not reached all schools estimated at over 22,000 -- which nearly all have grid electricity.

More than one million class one pupils had been targeted in the programme with the government saying that more than 60,000 teachers have been trained to support digital learning.

Photo: Twitter

#BraamSuicide trended on social media on Sunday after an eyewitness to the apparent suicide claimed the people that were supposed to save her life "told her to jump off the balcony".

The Wits Students Representatives Council (SRC) says students living at the institution's external residences are not offered the same support as students staying in Wits residences.

A student, 20, died on Saturday evening in what is suspected a suicide in Braamfontein after jumping from the sixth floor of her residence, Gauteng police said on Sunday.

Reacting to the death, the Wits SRC on Sunday tweeted that the university and institutions in general needed to review its current support structures.

"The unspoken pressures on students at institutions are becoming prevalent and the current measures in place are grossly inefficient. So many of our students live in external accommodation and are at risk of these kinds of incidents. There needs to be a review of the support services offered by external residences," the SRC said.

The SRC said they've lost many lives to mental health-related issues and there was a need for an urgent intervention from all stakeholders.

"Mental health needs to take centre stage in the University's Vision 2022 framework. For too long, these issues have taken a back seat. The SRC will make every effort to arrange counselling for any affected members of the Wits community," the SRC said.

Wits spokesperson Sharona Patel could not be reached on Sunday evening for comment.

'Told to jump'

#BraamSuicide trended on social media on Sunday after an eyewitness to the apparent suicide claimed the people that were supposed to save her life, "told her to jump off the balcony".

Solani Sibanda posted on Facebook that the Wits student died in front of him, but he couldn't help.

"Her fellow students at South Point, the detective that was sent to negotiate made it worst in seconds (sic) and South Point management failed to simply save this student from killing herself. Now she is dead," he said.

He said he was in total shock and disgusted by some of the students - four girls from Wits - the car guards and a number of guys "who were shouting and telling this girl to jump and that she was an attention seeker".

"No one, even South Point, thought of calling the fire station to come put mattresses or something on the pavement before she jumped," he wrote.

He said the girl gave them enough time to save her "but instead we encouraged the pressure she was fighting to take over".

"The whole matter was handled very poorly. My heart is in pieces," he said.

Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele told News24 that he does not have any knowledge of the claims made by Sibanda regarding the police detective.

"No, I don't know anything about this. We have opened an inquest docket. Police are still investigating the circumstance surrounding her death," he said.

Source: News24

An internal disciplinary hearing of three Maritzburg College boys, who showed allegiance to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), will be put on hold.

The hearing was postponed while the Department of Education launches a full-scale investigation into multiple allegations of racism at the school, a spokesperson has said.

Speaking to News24 on Monday, department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said officials were locked in a meeting with the school governing body and management.

According to Mahlambi, deeper issues of racism had emerged at the school, resulting in the boys' disciplinary hearing being halted.

"Our position is that we will put all other processes on hold for these boys, and anything else at the school. We are launching a full-scale investigation into the school, following other reports of alleged racism."

Mahlambi said a departmental team would investigate the racism allegations and any other disciplinary matters that the school management was meant to undertake.

There were reports of increased security at the school on Monday as the meeting took place.

The three pupils were meant to be subjected to disciplinary proceedings after they posted a photograph online in which one pupil is holding a T-shirt that read: "EFF our last hope of getting our land back".

The picture' which went viral on Friday' raised a hotly debated online discussion on racism and freedom of expression at the school.

EFF expresses support.

Over the weekend, the EFF rallied behind the boys, saying the school must drop the charges against them with immediate effect.

"We demand that they drop their reactionary and unconstitutional charges with immediate effect, or face the full might of our mass power," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Saturday.

"The black child has a freedom to express their thoughts anywhere in this country, without any fear or favour," said Ndlozi.

Kevin Pietersen backlash

Meanwhile, former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen - a former pupil of the school - has come under fire for his comments on the matter.

Last week, he tagged the picture of the boys in a tweet and said: "Total disrespect for a once GREAT school! Are you joking?!?!"

On Monday morning, some tweeted that Pietersen "had egg on his face" after the department took over all disciplinary matters at the school.

Source: News24

Keetmanshoop — About 28 young people from across the seven constituencies of //Kharas Region gathered at Keetmanshoop youth multi-purpose centre for a three-day workshop on the media industry.

Conducted by the Media and Information Literacy Learning Initiative (MILLI), the workshop focused on radio, photography, sound and music, with all participants receiving certificates at the end of the workshop last Friday.

The training also focused on access to information and media, the role of the media, ethics, education and empowerment and how individuals in the community can use the media for a good cause, to share content or spread news. Excited participants said they had not only learned something new, but that the knowledge can assist them in creating employment for themselves in the future.

By Justus Lyatuu

Ethiopian Airlines is looking for tour and travel companies to partner in order to boost regional tourism and trade between Uganda and Ethiopia.

Abebe Angessa, the country manager for Ethiopian Airlines in Uganda, said Uganda's trade and tourism ties with Ethiopia have been the largest contributor to their business, and it is time the airline invested more to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

According to Angessa, promotion of tourism has been minimal as the concentration has been placed on trade and other travels.

"Ethiopians have a lot of disposable income and the country has many historical sites, which Ugandans can visit. The same applies to Uganda where we have a lot of fauna and flora; we are looking for people to work with on this."

Angessa said: "We have developed special packages for holiday makers. We are ready to enter partnerships with designated tour and travel operators and ticketing agents to exploit this tourism potential."

Angessa who was addressing the airlines travel agents in Kampala further said if need be, the number of flights from Entebbe to Addis Ababa will increase from three to five every day.

Angessa said tourists can visit special sites such as the place where the biblical covenant is kept, the Nagashi mosque, ancient buildings and churches of the 12th century.

"The sights, the scenery, the culture are already there. Ethiopia's ancient Orthodox Christianity has gifted the nation with thousands of churches and monasteries," he said.

By Mnaku Mbani

Dar es Salaam — Tourism stakeholders have been advised to be innovative and strategic in promoting the country's attractions abroad in order to boost the number of visitors.

The Vice President, Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan made the remark on Friday during the Swahili International Tourism Expo (SITE), which was held in Dar es Salaam.

"Tourism is growing very fast in Africa. It is high time stakeholders ensured that they attract more foreigners to visit our country," she said.

Ms Hassan added: "I know this sector very well because I once served as the minister for tourism in Zanzibar. Tanzania is among the few countries in the world that are endowed with abundant tourist attractions. About 28 per cent of our land has tourist attractions. Therefore, we have to be strategic and exploit our full potential to boost our revenue."

Over 180 tourism agents from 30 countries across the world attended the three-day Expo. 150 companies from different nations were well represented.

The participants were displaying their goods and services that come from the tourism industry.

Reports from tourism authorities have shown that in 2016 over 1.3 million tourists visited Tanzania and that by 2025, revenue from tourism will hit Sh16 billion per annum.

The minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Dr Khamis Kigwangala said if the Expo's potential was fully utilised, it would give an opportunity for small entrepreneurs to promote themselves on the international market.

"This Expo has gathered a lot of tourism stakeholders from over 30 countries worldwide, small entrepreneurs do not have enough resources to promote themselves internationally, therefore this is a golden opportunity for them," the minister said.

The Chairman of the Board of Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB), Judge (Rtd) Thomas Mihayo thanked President John Magufuli for his efforts in supporting growth of the tourism sector.

"These efforts of our President and his team will not be in vain, they will help make Tanzania a tourism hub, We hope that Tanzania will be the first country that comes to mind when the tourists think of where to visit," he said.

"Without government support, this sector will not grow because there are several issues that needs financial and policy support. Monetary support is needed especially in the infrastructural development such as roads, bridges and electricity in the areas where there are tourist attractions."

Earlier, while welcoming the guests and participants of the exhibition, the Executive Director of TTB, Ms Devota Mdachi said the TTB's expectations were to see the sector flourish after the exhibitions.

Photo: Nairobi News

Zari posted a video of herself and cheating partner Diamond Platinumz having a good time in Zanzibar, days after she had deleted pictures of the musician on her Instagram and also unfollowed him.

By Naira Habib

Bongo musician Diamond Platinumz and his Ugandan socialite girlfriend Zari Hassan are in Zanzibar to repair a love relationship that broke up after claims of cheating

Zari posted a video of the two having a good time in Zanzibar, days after she had deleted pictures of the muician on her Instagram and also unfollowed him.

Zari over the weekend arrived in Tanzania to a queenly reception for the launch of a furniture store opening. She was received by Diamond's bodyguard.

The musician's mother Bi Sandra wrote a sweet message on Instgaram welcoming her to Tanzania.

Zari's video showed the couple all affectionate to each other. It starts with the two walking from their hotel to a waiting car to take them to the famous food market on the island.

Diamond is seen paying extra attention to Zari, even going as far as playing the gentleman of opening the car door for her.

The two in the company of their bodyguards were swamped by fans who wanted to take pictures with them.

Night life in Zanzibar... . #ForozaniFoodMarket. Work smart, go out and play hard!

A post shared by Zari (@zarithebosslady) on Oct 15, 2017 at 3:29pm PDT

By Fasica Berhane

The number of local visitors for festivals and other events has increased from time to time, however many of the historical and natural heritages of the city have remained unvisited due to lack of awareness, according to the Addis Ababa City Tourism Bureau.

As part of celebrating world tourism week, the Bureau has held a week long symposium with the theme, 'Sustainable Tourism: A tool for development,' which attracted over 5,000 people.

Biniam Abraha, Director of Tourism Development with Addis Ababa Tourism Bureau told the Ethiopian Herald that the bureau has undertaken various activities to enhance the domestic sector's potential and promote the role of tourism for the countries development through providing awareness creation towards the city's heritages, preparing guide books, videos, magazines, radio programs, and tourist guide in 5 languages.

Beniam also said that organizing youths; the bureau has established 'Know Your Country' club in every Weredas to create informed citizens about their historical heritages. Currently, there are 204 'know your country' clubs across the ten sub cities, he added.

Over 10,900 people visited the city's historical and natural heritages, museums, monuments, churches and natural parks like Entoto this year, Beniam noted.

According to Beniam, on the week long symposium, various activities such as tree plantation, cleaning, beauty context, talk shows, question and answer competition, and exhibitions among others have been taken place in a way they can contribute to foster the development of tourism in the city.

Bureau Communication Head Worku Mengesha for his part said that considering their long age and historical significance, the Bureau has planned to renovate five heritages in the city this year.

He said that three ancient houses and two monuments dedicated to Emperor Menelik and Tewodros located adjacent to Saint George church and Churchill Avenue in Piassa area of the city respectively, will undergo reinvigoration at a cost of 30 mln birr.

According to him, three houses of the late 19th century, which will be renovated, are houses belonging to Sheik Hojel Alhassan, Bitwoded Woldetsedik Goshu, first mayor of Addis Ababa, and the first municipality.

By Karel Stander

Zimbabwe is an expensive tourist destination if one measures the value of the Rand (or Pula) against the Dollar and consider the most expensive border fees in the region.

The average South African middle class tourist, therefore, really has to save up and budget when considering a holiday in Zimbabwe. It is such a scenic country that a visit, nevertheless, remains worth the cost.

Zimbabwean people have a reputation for their generous hospitality. Once you have entered Zimbabwe by road, however, your first interaction with a Zimbabwean citizen, after the border, will likely be with a member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police at one of the many roadblocks. One's illusion of having a relaxing time in this spectacular country, interacting with interesting cultures and getting value for one's hard-earned money, is immediately destroyed.

I can't recollect the last time I was fined in South Africa for a traffic violation and I have travelled through Botswana 6 times from Martinsdrift to Kasane and back. In this approximately 14,000 km, I have never been fined and hardly ever encountered any roadblocks apart from veterinary checks. Surely this is testimony that I generally respect and abide to traffic regulations.

After entering Zimbabwe (via Pandamatenga), in just the last 20 km before Vic Falls, you run the gauntlet through two roadblocks with hostile, unreasonable ZRP officials, who treat you as a potential criminal, or source of revenue. This large police presence, ironically, does not instil a sense of safety, but rather the impression of a dangerous country under siege and to be avoided. A decent and respectful approach to the authority to these rather scary officials is not rewarded by a similar response. In a tourist friendly country, a foreigner might expect to be advised, by a reasonable officer. If the tourist had, unwittingly, transgressed a minor local regulation and not to be enthusiastically fined exorbitant amounts of money!!

I have been to the Victoria Falls twice in 2015 and 2016 and had to pay a total of four fines for the most ridiculous and creative "offences" imaginable. On my first visit, I had to cut the days I intended to camp in the Zambezi park short, in order to make provision in my budget for the fines I had to pay (about R1,000). This meant that I had to make an unplanned border crossing into Botswana where I could afford to stay for two nights in Kasane, with better amenities, for the same price than one night in the park, to complete my holiday. Leaving Zimbabwe, at that time, filled me with relief, disgust and a strong desire never to return.

I would like to illustrate my experience with a brief summary of some of the fines I got: A US$20 fine for slowly and safely crossing a railway line in Vic Falls without stopping at the BROKEN (we later videotaped / photographed this robot) robot. There were no visible STOP signs or any other road sign before the crossing. Local vehicles rushing over the line also did not suggest that a dead stop was required.

I, thus, got punished for a lack of maintenance on the infrastructure of the town!

(At peril of making tedious comparisons: In Botswana at any railway crossing, you will find a railway warning sign long in advance, a stop sign and a functioning robot). Ignoring THAT deserves a hefty fine!

While being issued my fine in Vic Falls, numerous local vehicles still crossed the railway line at speed without even slowing down. Pointing this out to the officer and mentioning that as a result of his actions, we would leave Zimbabwe for Botswana and not return again, had no effect on his resolve to hustle a foreigner out of dollars.

I later encountered a roadblock about a kilometre from the border post at Kazangula! What is the "function" of this roadblock? To keep the roads safe by fining people a kilometre before they exit your country?? It can only, logically, serve as final pay-before-you-go ticket, before the lucrative source of income "escapes" into Botswana. My 10- year- old daughter, who was sleeping in the rear seat, was forced to exit the car to sign a $20 fine for not wearing a seat belt, whilst surrounded by a group of intimidating grown men! The officer refused to allow me to sign the fine.

Again, what is the reasoning behind harassing a child? Would any sensible parent want to expose their child to this again?

But I was lured back by my desire to visit the Falls again, against my better judgement and based on previous experience. This time I did not take my family along, but a group of friends. I really tried to ensure that I would comply with every rule in the book by researching everything I could find regarding Zimbabwean road regulations on the internet. I truly believe it is important to abide to and respect the laws of the country one visits.

My confidence in all my preparations was soon shattered. 30 km outside Vic Falls an officer wanted to fine me $40 for not having the right type of reflective stickers (which was absolutely acceptable the previous year!). To my knowledge, Zimbabwe is the only country in the region requiring these stickers on a normal vehicle. Why? Doesn't a vehicle have rear lights that shine at night?After my polite attempts to reason, the officer "mercifully" brought the fine down to $20. I guess I had to be very thankful for not receiving an illegal $40 dollar fine ($20 is the max spot fine as I have found out).

My companion, who wanted to take photographs of the roadblock and officers was threatened with arrest, because it is apparently "illegal" to do so. If it had not been for my passengers who really wanted to see the Falls and my pre-booking of our stay, I would have, once again, turned around and gone back to Botswana via Pandamatenga for a cheaper

holiday. It goes beyond reason, that Zimbabwean authorities would alienate tourists when the immediate "competition" (Botswana), that has similar attractions, welcome tourists with open arms!

My conclusion was that however hard you try to oblige and respect every road requirement/rule, the police will (creatively) find an excuse to exact a penalty (or worse) and one has to include this frustrating eventuality into your budget when considering a visit to Zimbabwe. Even though a return trip to Zimbabwe will always remain on my wish list, my advice to all my friends who make enquiries about a potential trip to Zimbabwe, is to rather spend their time and money in Botswana or Namibia. There are no cops scaring the fear of God into a 10-year old!

By Immanuel Chitwa

THE Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) says tourism contribution to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has in the last four years increased from 2.9 per cent to about 3.5 per cent currently.

ZTA chief executive officer Felix Chaila said tourism in 2014 and 2015 contributed 10 per cent to job creation and 7 per cent of the Government revenue.

He said this in an interview in Lusaka yesterday.

"When we have more tourists arriving the economy benefits, though the airlines benefit more directly," Mr Chaila said.

He said tourists arrival figures were still low but remained constant.

Mr Chaila said Zambia was going to be assisted in marketing its various tourist attractions by South Africa.

He said because South Africa spent more money on marketing its tourism, Zambia would be assisted by being included in some of its brouchers.

"South Africa is a giant in terms of tourism resource and we are spending much less. They spend about US$200 million on marketing which means they have a lot of tourists arriving, "Mr Chaila said.

He said it was imperative for Zambia to do its own marketing than doing indirectly.

Mr Chaila added that it was also a smart move that Zambia was taking to have itself benefit from its neighbouring countries.

He said it was good that government had realised the importance of tourism in the country and allocated enough resources for next year.

Tourism South African Airways country Manager Vincent Mupwaya said marketing resources were the biggest challenge.

He said marketing internationally, especially to the international media was difficult in that advertising was very expensive.

"If we come together as a force it is easier shared because the little resources that are available can be shared to target areas that have not been targeted, "Mr Mupwaya said.

Photo: Pan Macmillan

This book is based on the testimony of Steve Biko, explaining and defending his philosophy at the trial of his comrades in 1976.

book listing

'Steve spoke his mind in that court. He could display his intellectual superiority so superbly, and there were times when we - as the audience - would wonder whether Steve himself was the judge and the judge the accused ...' - ANDILE M-AFRIKA

What comes first to mind when one thinks of political trials in South Africa are the Rivonia Trial of 1956-61 and the Treason Trial of 1963-64. Rarely, if ever, is the 1976 SASO/BPC trial mentioned in the same breath and yet it was perhaps the most political trial of all.

The defendants, all members of the South African Students Organisation, or the Black People's Convention, were in the dock for having the temerity to think; to have opinions; to envisage a more just and humane society. It was a trial about ideas, but as it unfolded it became a trial of the entire philosophy of Black Consciousness and those who championed its cause.

On 2 May 1976, senior counsel for the defence in the trial of nine black activists in Pretoria called to the witness stand Stephen Bantu Biko.

Although Biko was known to the authorities, and indeed was serving a banning order, not much about the man was known by anyone outside of his colleagues and the Black Consciousness Movement.

That was about to change with his appearance as a witness in the SASO/BPC case. He entered the courtroom known to some, but after his four-day testimony he left as a celebrity known to all.

The Editor, MILLARD W. ARNOLD is the Senior Adviser to Bowman Gilfillan, Managing Partner of Masakata Consulting and Chief Executive Officer of the South African Business Schools Association. Arnold has also served as the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

Arnold was a Professor of law at Touro University and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law School. He was a journalist for the Washington Post newspaper and a Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Arnold holds a BA in Political Science and a Jurist Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

How to buy the book >>

Author(s): Millard Arnold

  • EAN: 9781770105584
  • eBook EAN: 9781770105591
  • Pages: 400
  • Format: Trade Paperback

 

Photo: Pan Macmillan

A compilation of quotes taken from the words of the activist and Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko.

book listing

'We are looking forward to a non-racial, just and egalitarian society in which colour, creed and race shall form no point of reference.' Steve Biko, IWWIL ('American Policy towards Azania'), p 158

First published in 1987, No Fears Expressed is a compilation of quotes taken from the words of the activist and Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko.

Sourced from the iconic I Write What I Like, including the collection of Biko's columns published in the journal of the South Africa Student Organisation under the pseudonym of 'Frank Talk', as well as from The Testimony of Steve Biko (edited by Millard W. Arnold), this book contains many inspirational quotes and thoughts that are still relevant in South African society today.

Biko's words fall under a wide range of topics including racism, black-white relations, remedies for apartheid, colonialism, black rage and township life. All are topics that reflect the ever-present divide that exists between black and white South Africans.

Steve Biko would have been 70 years old in 2017. His place in history is firmly cemented and the struggle that he gave his life for continues. He left a legacy of thoughts and words, and these words pay tribute to the courage and power of the young leader who was to become one of Africa's heroes.

How to buy the book >>

Author(s): Millard Arnold

EAN: 9781770105607

eBook EAN: 9781770105614

Pages: 160

Format: Gift Book

By Henok Tibebu

Back in the days, not only dreaming of being a writer or an author but also if one spoke of some contents from a book he/she read would make him/her one of the most admired and stylish members of the literate society of whatever age. Being a writer and a critical reader used to be a privilege. The way of knowing people's perspective about the past and the future is reading the wisdom of wise people who seriously observe the ways of peoples' life styles.

These days things seem to have changed in a way that poses threat to the intellectual wellbeing of the young generation. That must shake the entire scholar's society but the reality seems to be the reverse. I only see few scholars trying to promote initiatives that encourage reading.

When we are living in a time of technological boom and we can get access to every knowledge simply with a single tap on our smartphones, many young people incline to limit their interests only on entertainments, even worse on the bad ones and ignore the value of books or reading.

Everyone is indulging in the so called social media which false stories and bad rumours are taking over. Of course, there are constructive media outlets that tips the youth with significant information on the social media but they are outnumbered by the destructive ones.

People are spending too much time chatting and posting pictures on social media and never seem to find an hour for reading. Everywhere, I go people are chatting. I don't see what they are doing closely but I know when they are chatting when they smile or crinkle their faces without noticing people would watch. I wonder how they communicate and where they get new ideas to discuss without reading. The day today life bases of course could bring new issues to discuss but that only be about who did what, I did this and that and then too many lolls and emojis after each full stop. Isn't that a boring staff to do all the time? I'm just asking?

How can we chat a lot if there are no books in it? Of course, there could be too many Tv shows and famous people to talk about. But true knowledge is always abundantly found on books and the time gives us an opportunity of having digitized books. But we seem to be ignoring what's important and grabbing the harmful products of technology. And we are forgetting ourselves.

This reminds me a story of a famous Ethiopian writer. An older brother was telling his little brother the story of Axum, which was ones was the greatest civilization and empire in the world. He told the little brother about the great rock hewn obelisks of Axum and asked him what he thinks of them. The little brother, who has no idea about the precious historical value that the obelisks have, would simply say "I think the obelisks being built from single structure of rock indicates that there had been a shortage of stone at that time."

It couldn't be the little boy's mistake to have misunderstood his own historical wealth and undermine it. It could rather be the fault of the community he grew up in.

In this case, I believe religious institutes need to discharge their responsibility given to participate in building schools and shaping the ethics of children from the start. Religious institutes are the places where we can find our roots of early civilization. They are given the mandate to build schools but only few seem to have built. Most of them seem to have engaged in business activities like building multi storey houses and stores and renting them for companies or individuals. This is not really religious.

Somehow, nobody else has to tell an educated young generation of this era that it is necessary to grab a book. Our great grand fathers were not educated when they grabbed a goat skin and mad books to pass the wisdoms they learned from life and nature to generations.

Reading could be the answer to most of those who are wasting their time searching the meaning of life while they are breathing it or those who couldn't find themselves while they are not lost. The only loss is not having interest to reading.

By Yeukai Karengezeka-Chisepo

Award winning gospel musician, Reverend Togarepi Chivaviro and his wife Juliet together with their fans on Tuesday handed over 5 000 exercise books to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. The books are meant to benefit students from at least 10 remote schools from all provinces that do not have proper infrastructure and access to stationery. Speaking at the handover ceremony held in the capital at Harare Girls High, Chivariro said the annual charity work was motivated by his poor background.

"Every year we give out something to the underprivileged as a way of saying thank you to the community for supporting our music. This time we chose to assist the needy students across the country that do not have sufficient educational materials. I am inspired to help because I was one of the people who went to school without shoes, uniform and enough books because of poverty," he said.

Chivaviro also donated school fees for 21 students from three schools in Kwekwe, Zhombe and Gokwe. Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Professor Paul Mavhima who was the guest of honour thanked Chivaviro and his team for contributing positively to the education sector.

"On behalf of the ministry we would like to thank you for the gesture. If we can have more people like him it means we are building our future generations," he said. The musician took some time to entertain guests with his captivating performance as he dished out his popular hits "Mhepo Inoperekedza" and "Ebenezer".

Khartoum — The First Vice President of the Republic, the National Prime Minister, Lt. Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih will inaugurate next Tuesday the 13 th session of Khartoum International Book Fair, in 8: p.m at the Fairs Land in Burrei area, under the motto "Book the Bridge of Knowledge".

The book fair during the period from 17- 29 of current October will witness the participation of 14 countries and more than 300 publishing local and foreign houses.

The fair will be honored by the Egyptian Minister of Culture and the selection of Egypt as the fair's session guest of honor.

The Minister of Culture, al-Tayeb Hassan Badawi, in the press conference held at the hall of the Ministry of Information, for announcing the launching of the international book fair, underlined that the fair represents one of the pillars of the ministry's projects , indicating that the book is still the origin in the knowledge process, adding that the lifting of the US sanctions would enrich the intellectual arena by the wide opening the door for the publishing houses completion, and to prepare the Sudan to be a market for the African books.

Badawi said that Sudan basics are the thought, civilization and culture that varied as a natural product of inter-related diversity for various reasons, and represents a model of moderation in the Islamic world, indicating that the book fair coincides with the preparations for concluding the project of Sinnar as the capital of Islamic culture, noting that the selection of Egypt as fair's session guest of honor comes in context of the directives of the two Sudanese and Egyptian presidents.

The state minister at the ministry of culture, dr. hassab al-rasoul ahmed al- Sheikh, pointed out that this session of the book fair comes within historical changes represented by the national dialogue and its outcome of the cultural nature, the stability that the sudan is enjoying, besides the great cultural activities, adding that the book fair represents a container for all these activities, noting to the ministry's partnerships with several bodies in order to organize the fair.

The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, Karam Alla Hamid Khalf-Alla has stressed the completion of all the arrangements for the book fair, reviewing steps of arrangements since last February, the participating countries in the fair, the publishing houses, meanwhile, he reviewed in details the accompanying activities to the book fair, announcing the honoring of the poet of the fair's session, Dr. Mohamed Abdul-Hai beside a number of figures that have enriched the intellectual and cultural arena, declaring that the fair's activities include a radio completion.

On his part, the Chairman of the Sudanese Publishers Union, Mohamed al-Hassan Mohamed Aba'ass has announced the union's initiative for participating in the campaign for the collection of the illegal arms under the motto "hand over your arms, receive a book".

By Yeukai Karengezeka-Chisepo

Author Doctor Cainos Chingombe launched a new book titled "No Easy Walk: The Inspiring Story of My Life" on Thursday evening at the Harare International Conference Centre. The well attended launch was graced by professors, councillors, Chitungwiza and Harare acting clerks amongst other distinguished guests. Chingombe who is also the Harare City Council Human Capital director for a decade said it took him years to finish the book that is meant to inspire other people to be successful.

"This project took years of hard work to come into being and the book details the difficult trajectory I travelled in the quest to make a difference in my life and that of others," he said.

Chingombe came from an under privileged family background and grew up in a disadvantaged community but through his resilience, he managed to change his circumstances. The tale of graduating from a cattle herd boy to a holder of a doctorate degree is a rare occurrence. While external support can complement one's effort, the difference between peoples' achievement mostly lie in their own effort. A lot of fundamental things are explored in the book.

"The contents of the book cover important learning points ranging from how to survive in the face of adversity, effective interaction with all stakeholders, stakeholder management, relationship building and management.

"It also tackles balancing family and professional life, placement of God at the centre of human life and traces the path one can follow to move from the lowest to the highest strata in a difficult environment," said Chingombe.

Commenting on the book, guest speaker Minister of State for Harare Metro Provincial Affairs honourable Miriam Chikukwa said everybody should draw lessons from Chingombe's life.

"Dr Chingombe is one of most disciplined characters in the Civil Service. His discipline can now be traced back to his personal experience, when he had taken a profession of cattle herd boy. We should all of us draw some lessons from his auto biography," she said.

Born in 1956, Chingombe dropped out of school in Grade 5 because of financial constraints in 1967. He resumed his primary school studies after seven years till he finished his secondary studies. Through perseverance and determination, he attained his first degree, a Bachelors in Education in 1987.Now he holds several diplomas and at least 5 PHDs in different disciplines. He graduated with a PHD in Governance and Leadership from the University of Lusaka last week.

By Staff Reporters

THAT president Robert Mugabe wants his wife Grace to be the next leader may have become undeniable at the weekend after Zanu PF's 10 provinces agreed to amend the party's constitution with the recommendation for a female VP taking centre stage.

The provinces also agreed that the extra-ordinary Zanu PF elective congress will go ahead in December and that the aged leader would be the party's candidate in next year's election.

Estry Mlambo-Madhuku, Women's League Chairperson, said the special congress will put the succession issue to rest.

"We want to reaffirm our position as the Women's League in Manicaland of being solidly behind President Mugabe. We have been advocating having one of the Vice-Presidents being a woman and the December special conference will help us to resolve this issue," she told the state media.

After the Harare Provincial Executive Council (PEC) meeting, provincial spokesperson, Abicia Ushewokunze, said:

"That President Mugabe is the sole candidate is not a debate, but idzokororo (repetition). We resolved that the constitution be amended as there are a number of issues yet to be addressed, especially the Women's League resolution on Vice Presidents. All conferences have passed this resolution... ..."

Embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been left in the lurch after Masvingo and Midlands provinces viewed sympathetic to his cause have both endorsed party plans to turn Zanu PF's December conference into an elective congress.

VP Mnangagwa, who hails from Masvingo, enjoys support from the two provinces.

President Mugabe and Grace have not hidden their frustrations with the two provinces they describe as havens for factional politics within the party.

With all signs pointing to a Mnangagwa lynching, all eyes were on Masvingo and Midlands to see if they also supported a controversial move already supported by the majority of party provinces.

But as it turned out, the two provinces supported the move after all. This was during hastily arranged weekend meetings held by party provinces to decide on congress suggestions.

Zanu PF Masvingo provincial information and publicity secretary Ronald Ndava told New Zimbabwe Sunday the restive province was in support of the resolution.

"We met today (Sunday) as a province and we passed two resolutions; first we were agreed that we should request the President to convene the congress, and secondly to affirm our position as a province that the President is the sole candidate for 2018 elections," he said.

Similarly, Zanu PF Midlands secretary for information Cornelius Mupereri also confirmed passing the resolution.

"We have passed the resolution.

"We did that as a protocol observing and law abiding province and we resolved that in the extra ordinary congress, there are three issues that are going to be discussed; the first one is the affirmation of the candidature of His Excellency, Cde R.G Mugabe," Mupereri said adding that the province resolved to back the BVR and polling station based voting system for next year.

Mupereri also denied the province was among Zanu PF's two problem spots adding that the resolutions were passed unanimously.

President Mugabe, who at 93, has reached the twilight of both life and political career, is seen making frantic moves to position preferred loyalists for party take over.

The move is thought to be his strategy to manage the fears of his young family and secure a giant family business empire from any vindictive expropriation by enemies when he is gone.

Women are not taking full advantage of empowerment programmes that Government is putting in place to address economic gender imbalances. This was said by Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development Permanent Secretary Mrs Evelyn Ndlovu at the Women in Energy Zimbabwe Conference held at HICC this past week.

"There are various funds that have been set aside for women to access capital from various institutions but the uptake is slow. Women need to take advantage of the opportunities availed by Government," said Mrs Ndlovu.

The conference was convened by Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority as "part of a series of a robust engagement with key stakeholders aimed at sharing experiences, exploring policy and legal provisions and gaps in respect of women's participation in the energy sector mindful of the vast potential that women have insofar as increasing access to modern energy and catalysing economic activities at different levels is concerned," according to conference literature.

Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development Nyasha Chikwinya pointed out that women need to get into the energy sector as they are the most affected by the lack of modern energy sources.

Other speakers included Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister Tsitsi Muzenda, who said that her ministry is focused on empowering women to become players in the energy sector.

ZERA CEO Dr Engineer Gloria Magombo said that there are plans to make the conference a regular event at two year intervals following the success of the inaugural edition.

Women of Africa Fuels and Oils CEO Advocate Pria Hassan shared other women's experience from the perspective of her Durban based company.

Over 400 women attended the two day conference

By Daniel Nemukuyu

Adventist Lawyers Association (ALA), an 80-member group of lawyers belonging to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, on Saturday held a free legal clinic at Overspill shops in Epworth as part of the church's drive to end child abuse and prostitution in the area. Epworth is infamous for child prostitution and girls as young as nine years are being sexually abused at a spot popularly known as "paBooster", among other places.

The community's records for child abuse are alarmingly high and the Christian lawyers took their time to conduct a church service and later on one-on-one free legal advice sessions. Scores of children and parents with burning legal questions went home satisfied after meeting the team of experts free of charge. Prominent Harare lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who was part of the team, said their aim was to conscientise the children of their rights in the war against child abuse.

"We have heard several stories about this place, some true while others were untrue. We carried out our own research and established the need for an awareness campaign and free legal advice to the people of Epworth. As a group of lawyers, we have decided to play our party by speaking loudly and boldly against child abuse. We thought of providing meaningful and practical assistance to children who find themselves in abusive set-ups and the assistance that we render is free of charge. To us, faith without works is dead," said Adve Mpofu.

Delivering a sermon during the full-day programme, Pastor Best Shambare said Epworth needed God to change the mind set of child molesters who take advantage of the vulnerable girls.

"Abusing the girls is tantamount to abusing Christ. God is watching you as you park your vehicle at the Booster and pick up a little girl for abusive purposes. Where do you get the guts to abuse a girl who, under normal circumstances, should look up to you as a parent?

"Men of Epworth, stop abusing Jesus. Jesus is crying daily for the lives of the little ones but u have the audacity to continue abusing them. Change your ways of life so that the children of Epworth will live peacefully. The money you spend on the girls after abusing them, should be better channelled towards sending them to school or providing them with fatherly care," he said.

Another lawyer Ms Nyaradzo Maphosa of Sawyer & Mkhushi Legal Practitioners said technological advancement and the social media was negatively impacting on the children. She urged children to report any forms of abuse without hesitation.

By Hilda Mhagama

AS cases of cervical cancer increase, screening services with existing family planning clinics can increase access to the services and treatment.

Marie Stopes Tanzania Country Director, Anil Tambay, made the remarks in Dar es Salaam yesterday to mark the end of the Bill and Melinda Gates cervical cancer screening and preventative therapy project.

Mr Tambay said family planning programmes were "natural entry points" for prevention programmes because the target group for cervical cancer screening are the same as the target group for family planning services.

"Family planning integration is an overwhelmingly positive strategy, but it requires robust supervision and logistics systems," he said.

However, he acknowledged, there were operational challenges, such as fragmented funding structures, the need for increased coordination among clinics, and the regular training and supervision of clinical service providers.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded this project in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria to implement cervical cancer screening and Preventive therapy via reproductive health Networks from November 2012 to October 2017.

In Tanzania, the project is being implemented by the Marie Stopes Tanzania, Population Services International (PSI) and Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI).

He said more than 187,263 women were screened in a period of 23 months in the country, among them 7,783 were found positive and 7,602 underwent cryotherapy.

Assistant Director for reproductive and child health section in the ministry of health, community development, gender, elderly and children, Dr Hussein kidanto, said cervical cancer was a major public health problem in Tanzania.

"Many experts would agree that the high burden of disease and low survival rate among women with cervical cancer in the country is attributed to late disease presentation, diagnosis and delay in treatment," he said.

Dr Kidanto said currently there were 466 facilities providing cervical cancer screening and treatment services, this includes all regional, district hospitals, some health centres as well as some of dispensaries.

He further said cervical cancer could be prevented simply by raising public awareness, vaccinating adolescent girls aged 9-13 years against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer and screening women who are sexually active for cervical at least once every three years.

By Evance Chisiano

Machinga — Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) has joined in the efforts of ending child marriages and teen pregnancies in Machinga through Gender Empowerment and Development for Enhancement of Rights (GENDER).

The project is being implemented following a base line survey which indicated that 51 percent of girls are married before reaching eighteen in the district.

VSO Senior Manager, Misheck Vwemu, unveiled the project at Nsanama on Saturday during an open day which also marked the launch of the Swedish Development Agency-funded Gender initiative which aims at reducing incidences of teen pregnancies and child marriages.

Vwemu said the project is being implemented in Nsanama area where incidences of teen pregnancies and child marriages are high.

He said the VSO would be engaging a group of young people called 'Youth Champions' that advocate for the abolition of harmful cultural practices which perpetrate teen pregnancies and child marriages.

"We are working with government as a main stakeholder," he said, adding the project also involves traditional leaders to enforce by-laws to check the trends which are in conflict with the laws of Malawi.

Ntaja Police Station Officer in Charge, Superintendent Nevison Chitseko, urged people in the area to report to police any parents or guardians who force their children into marriage and the men that marry or impregnate girls younger than 18 years.

Chitseko said police would always take tip - offs from the public on issues of teen pregnancies and child marriages as one way of promoting child rights.

"We will deal with all those that facilitate child marriages," Chitseko warned, assuring that the police would continue to sensitise communities on the illegality of teen pregnancies and child marriages.

Chitseko's remarks come a few days after Ntaja Police arrested a Primary Education Advisor for Chikweo Zone, Emmanuel Bua, 54, for allegedly impregnating a fifteen year old girl of Michongwe Primary School.

Ntaja Health Centre confirmed, after a pregnancy test, that the Std 7 learner was indeed ten weeks pregnant, according to police.

Machinga District Council Chairperson, Margret Uladi, said child marriages and teen pregnancies are a concern in the district such that the issues require concerted efforts to bring them to an end.

Uladi, however, blamed men for violating 'girls' rights' accusing them of not being responsible in protecting the girl child. She, therefore, commended traditional leaders for formulating and enforcing by-laws to address all factors that impact on girls' health and education.

"It is our wish that girls in Machinga should realize their dreams," Uladi said, acknowledging other efforts by different civil society organizations aimed at arresting harmful cultural practices.

A youth champion, Enelesi Bauleni, said most girls are married as early as thirteen, due to pressure from parents and peers.

She said a group of young people are working with girls in communities in the area to learn to withstand pressure and remain in school.

Bauleni, who was once married and withdrew from marriage with two kids, is back to school and fighting for the rights of girls through the youth championship concept.

By Blackson Mkupatira

Mulanje — District Education Manager (DEM) for Mulanje, Gossam Mafuta, has expressed satisfaction with the current efforts in ensuring gender equality in primary schools in the district.

Mafuta observed that efforts in ensuring that equal numbers of both girls and boys were enrolling in school satisfy efforts made on the right to education for children, describing the development as positive.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi News Agency on Friday, Mafuta emphasized the importance of gender parity in education, noting that it adds value to long term social - economic growth of the district and the country as a whole

"The enrolment figures show that we have slightly more girls in our schools than boys. We have a gender parity index (GPI) of 1.01 in primary school. This indicates that boys' and girls' enrolments are almost at par," Mafuta said.

Mafuta said this was a positive development because it meant that there would be more educated women than their male counterparts in future who would in turn be economically empowered to effectively contribute to decision making processes affecting their livelihood.

"In the past, the girl child has been denied education and this has led to challenges the country is facing at present, like the generation cycle of poverty, illiteracy and early marriages," he noted.

"This is so because gender inequality in education affects economic growth by lowering the average level of human per capital and this puts burden on the economy of the country," added Mafuta.

On this note, Mafuta expressed satisfaction with the current situation, which he said implies that parents are showing interest in getting their children, particularly girls, educated.

However, Mafuta bemoaned lack of parity in senior primary classes, observing that there is high girl child dropout rate whereby the number of boys surpasses that of girls.

"The GPI only looks good at enrolment and junior primary level from Standard 1 to 4 but more girls drop out in senior primary classes of Std 6 to 8," he lamented, attributing the decline to socio - cultural and traditional factors.

Mafuta, therefore, commended government and various partners in the education sector for considering investing heavily in the advancement of girl education.

He also thanked communities for complementing government efforts in improving education standards as an instrument for development, appealing for more efforts in ensuring gender parity at secondary and tertiary levels.

By Idoko Salihu

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on Saturday unveiled a statue in honour of South African President Jacob Zuma.

The event was witnessed by Mr. Zuma and other dignitaries.

Asides the mammoth statue, Governor Rochas also named a road after Mr. Zuma.

Sequel to the unveiling of the statue, Mr. Zuma was on Friday conferred with a traditional title of Ochiagha Imo, by Eze Imo, Samuel Ohiri.

The title certificate was issued by a former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Okorocha said the honour was conferred on Mr. Zuma for his love for education.

"Today, we have decided to honour you for your love for education, though you were deprived in your early days in life but you are working to make sure that every poor child went to School. Your love for education to us is the connection between you and government and the people of Imo State. The only industry we have and we can truly be proud of is education in Imo State. This is another reason why we have chosen to honour you", he said.

Mr. Zuma who spoke after receiving the award charged Africans to come together to address the issues that affect the continent, adding that we are one people.

"Africans must come together to address African problems. We are the same people. We cannot succeed if we handle problems as individuals. We need to recognize that we are one."

The award comes a few days after another Nigerian, Jelili Omoyele, a 35-year-old, was killed in South Africa.

The recent development has created diverse reactions on social media as many have registered their grievances.

Read reactions here:

As if the Mighty Statue was not Enough, a Street was also named after Jacob Zuma by Imo state Governor Rochas pic.twitter.com/KqX05NgBbt

- Osas Cruz (@OsasCruz) October 15, 2017

The Status of South African president Jacob Zuma built by Governor Rochas in Owerri pic.twitter.com/BihHobuFo8

- Osas Cruz (@OsasCruz) October 15, 2017

Dear Rochas Okorocha you're mad for this statue of Jacob Zuma you built in Imo State. pic.twitter.com/Hg2l7Akkd0

- A B D U L-W A S I U (@Uthman_Waxcav) October 15, 2017

How worse can it get?

Despite owing workers, Gov. Rochas spent 520M to erect statue of South African president Jacob Zuma in Owerri

Funke! pic.twitter.com/slsSqhbjQc

- Wale Adetona (@iSlimfit) October 15, 2017

Abdulsalam: make you naa read oh

"Gov Rochas Okorocha just erected a statue of Jacob Zuma in Imo state"

OBJ & Shonekan: pic.twitter.com/druNTorhBZ

- Mr.┏̲O̶̲̅┓̲P ┏̲A̶̲̅┓ (@ogbeni_opa) October 15, 2017

Won't be suprised if Rochas Okorocha brings Jacob Zuma to Abuja and rename Zuma rock to Jacob Zuma rock.

- SUPERHEATED STEAM (@dhe_Mechanic) October 15, 2017

Rochas Okorocha: Imo state people hate this Jacob Zuma statue, let me build one for Nnamdi Azikiwe

His Inner mind: No, build one for Mugabe pic.twitter.com/aLNxaRgsQz

- FAVOUR ONYEOZIRI (@Rouvafe) October 15, 2017

Gov Rochas just erected a humongous statue of Jacob Zuma in Imo.

What next?? Name a Stadium or Airport after Robert Mugabe?? pic.twitter.com/LoET7JrakR

- PRESIDENT OKONKWO (@IkechuQwu) October 15, 2017

I know today is Sunday & this is probably wrong, but Rochas Okorocha is very mad for this statue of Jacob Zuma He built in Imo State pic.twitter.com/5O0JTIY48x

- Tweeter Active (@_Tweeteractive) October 15, 2017

I hereby congratulate ndi Imo home and abroad for this landmark achievement by Gov Rochas Joker Okorowonder pic.twitter.com/h0FcqT8SSY

- IKECHUKWU (@iykimo) October 14, 2017

South African social media platforms have been laughing at us for hours. Rochas Okorocha has disgraced ALL Nigerians not just Imo state pic.twitter.com/NoulrI2WGm

- Mr Stanley Nwabia (@MrStanleyNwabia) October 14, 2017

When people in Lagos & abroad praise Rochas, man, I get so disgusted. Have you seen Imo State? Like real life, not what the media shows you

- Agunwanyi. (@_obuteaku) October 15, 2017

Rochas is owing my aunty, a retired Principal, pension for more than 13 months yet he has money to erect a statue for Zuma. What a man. https://t.co/K7ke1SWIvi

- Whiskey Papi (@tawah89) October 15, 2017

Ur MCM Gov Rochas Okorocha spent 520M 2 erect statue of SA President Jacob Zuma in Owerri while owing workers salaries.

Pray 4 him gidigan

- Mr.┏̲O̶̲̅┓̲P ┏̲A̶̲̅┓ (@ogbeni_opa) October 15, 2017

Rochas looking at y'all complaining about Jacob Zuma's statue in Imo state, knowing that the Devil's statue He's building is 80% complete pic.twitter.com/uHgQlRjQC4

- FAVOUR ONYEOZIRI (@Rouvafe) October 15, 2017

Nigerians: Governor Rochas Okorocha is owing civil servant salaries.

Jacob Zuma: And so ? pic.twitter.com/MsfqtvhNz4

- Mr.┏̲O̶̲̅┓̲P ┏̲A̶̲̅┓ (@ogbeni_opa) October 15, 2017

A statue of SA president Jacob Zuma built by Governor Rochas in Owerri, with a street named after him too.

Corruption erodes brain cells 😩😩 pic.twitter.com/HLHJc93Ikg

- ⚡️DaddyMo ⚡️ (@officialdaddymo) October 15, 2017

First, Rochas made a huge billboard where he had a handshake with Obama.

Now, he has made a giant statue of Zuma

Rochas in one word..FOOL!

- Miz Cazorla (@MizCazorla1) October 15, 2017

Rochas Okorocha should have just stayed a benevolent billionaire. A statue for Jacob Zuma is the height of insanity at a time like this.

- JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) October 15, 2017

Rochas is owing salary. Used millions 2 honour Jacob Zuma that's hated in S/A & dat turned a blind eye to Xenophobia pic.twitter.com/Lz4jgNUz2i

- Jèfé Juān Jọsé (@Jefe_says) October 15, 2017

By Baher Kamal

Rome — In a world where only 8 individuals - all of them men- possess as much as half of all the planet's wealth, and it will take women 170 years to be paid as men are*, inequality appears to be a key feature of the current economic model. Now a new study reveals that there is also a widening gap in hunger.

In fact, the 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) states that despite years of progress, food security is still under threat. And that conflict and climate change are hitting the poorest people the hardest and effectively pitching parts of the world into "perpetual crisis."

Although it has been said that "hunger does not discriminate," it does, says the 2017 Global Hunger Index, jointly published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe.

According to this study, hunger emerges the strongest and most persistently among populations that are already vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Hunger and inequality are inextricably linked, it warns. By committing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the international community promised to eradicate hunger and reduce inequality by 2030.

"Yet the world is still not on track to reach this target. Inequality takes many forms, and understanding how it leads to or exacerbates hunger is not always straightforward."

Women and Girls

The GHI provides some examples-women and girls comprise 60 per cent of the world's hungry, often the result of deeply rooted social structures that deny women access to education, healthcare, and resources.

Likewise, ethnic minorities are often victims of discrimination and experience greater levels of poverty and hunger, it says, adding that most closely tied to hunger, perhaps, is poverty, the clearest manifestation of societal inequality.

Three-quarters of the world's poor live in rural areas, where hunger is typically higher.

The 2017 Global Hunger Index tracks the state of hunger worldwide, spotlighting those places where action to address hunger is most urgently needed.

This year's Index shows mixed results: despite a decline in hunger over the long term, the global level remains high, with great differences not only among countries but also within countries.

For example, at a national level, Central African Republic (CAR) has extremely alarming levels of hunger and is ranked highest of all countries with GHI scores in the report.

While CAR made no progress in reducing hunger over the past 17 years--its GHI score from 2000 is the same as in 2017--14 other countries reduced their GHI scores by more than 50 per cent over the same period.

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    Women Are Pivotal to Addressing Hunger, Malnutrition and Poverty

Meanwhile, at the sub-national level, inequalities of hunger are often obscured by national averages. In northeast Nigeria, 4.5 million people are experiencing or are at risk of famine while the rest of the country is relatively food secure, according to the 2017 Index.

Child Stunting

This year's report also highlights trends related to child stunting in selected countries including Afghanistan, where rates vary dramatically -- from 24.3 per cent of children in some parts of the country to 70.8 per cent in others.

While the world has committed to reaching Zero Hunger by 2030, the fact that over 20 million people are currently at risk of famine shows how far we are from realising this vision, warns the report.

"As we fight the scourge of hunger across the globe, we must understand how inequality contributes to it. To ensure that those who are affected by inequality can demand change from national governments and international organisations and hold them to account, we must understand and redress power imbalances."

The study notes that on 20 February, the world awoke to a headline that should have never come about: famine had been declared in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced anywhere in the world in six years. "This formal famine declaration meant that people were already dying of hunger."

This was on top of imminent famine warnings in northern Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen, putting a total of 20 million people at risk of starvation, it adds.

"Meanwhile, Venezuela's political turmoil created massive food shortages in both the city and countryside, leaving millions without enough to eat in a region that, overall, has low levels of hunger. As the crisis there escalated and food prices soared, the poor were the first to suffer."

This year's report also highlights trends related to child stunting in selected countries including Afghanistan, where rates vary dramatically - from 24.3 per cent of children in some parts of the country to 70.8 per cent in others.

According to 2017 GHI scores, the level of hunger in the world has decreased by 27 per cent from the 2000 level. Of the 119 countries assessed in this year's report, one falls in the extremely alarming range on the GHI Severity Scale; 7 fall in the alarming range; 44 in the serious range; and 24 in the moderate range. Only 43 countries have scores in the low range.

In addition, 9 of the 13 countries that lack sufficient data for calculating 2017 GHI scores still raise significant concerns, including Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria.

To capture the multidimensional nature of hunger, GHI scores are based on four component indicators--undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting, and child mortality.

The 27 per cent improvement noted above reflects progress in each of these indicators according to the latest data from 2012-2016 for countries in the GHI:

- The share of the overall population that is undernourished is 13.0 per cent, down from 18.2 per cent in 2000.

- 27.8 per cent of children under five are stunted, down from 37.7 per cent in 2000.

- 9.5 per cent of children under five are wasted, down from 9.9 per cent in 2000.

- The under-five mortality rate is 4.7 per cent, down from 8.2 per cent in 2000.

By Regions

The regions of the world struggling most with hunger are South Asia and Africa south of the Sahara, with scores in the serious range (30.9 and 29.4, respectively), says the report.

Meanwhile, the scores of East and Southeast Asia, the Near East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States range from low to moderate (between 7.8 and 12.8).

These averages conceal some troubling results within each region, it says, adding that however, including scores in the serious range for Tajikistan, Guatemala, Haiti, and Iraq and in the alarming range for Yemen, as well as scores in the serious range for half of all countries in East and Southeast Asia, whose average benefits from China's low score of 7.5.

For its part, the UN State of Food and Agriculture 2017 report, released on 9 October, warns that efforts to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030 could be thwarted by a thorny combination of low productivity in developing world subsistence agriculture, limited scope for industrialisation, and rapid population growth.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report also argues that rural areas need not be a poverty trap.

In short, also hunger discriminates against the ultimate victims of all inequalities-the most vulnerable. Any reaction?

*Oxfam International's report 'An economy for the 99 per cent'.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year's World Food Day on October 16.

Follow @https://twitter.com/Baher_Kamal

By Lakshmi Puri

United Nations — The 16th of October marks World Food Day, a reminder to the international community of the criticality of treating food security as a 21st Century priority if sustainable development, peace and security and the realisation of human rights are to be achieved.

When we think and act on food security we must think and act on gender equality and women's empowerment as women are not only the ones most affected by food insecurity but are charged with the food and nutrition responsibilities for families and communities in the entire food value chain from growing the crops to bringing food to the table.

Rapid population growth, the slowdown of the global economy, commodity price volatility, the speculative aspects of the trade in food commodity futures, and distortive agricultural and trade policies are compounding factors for continuing food insecurity and hunger. The latest estimates indicate that 795 million people were undernourished globally in 2014-2016, with insufficient food for an active and healthy life.

Bio-fuel production with its rising pressure on land and natural resources as well as climate change, are adding to the volatility of food prices and the urgency to find solutions for food insecurity. and for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) on Ending Hunger, Achieving Food Security, Improving Nutrition and Promoting Sustainable Agriculture.

Food security and gender equality and women's empowerment are concomitant and inextricably interlinked.

Women are pivotal to addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty especially in developing countries. They comprise an average of 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force across the developing world making up the backbone of the agricultural sector and food production systems and the bulk of the agricultural labourers. Eight out of ten agricultural workers in Africa are women and in Asia six out of ten are women. Rural women often represent approximately two thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers.

Furthermore, women are on the front line of nutrition as care givers in the family - producing, storing, cleaning, cooking food for consumption - and ensuring that food, when available, reaches children first. Women have a crucial role in ensuring the health of children.

Eight out of ten agricultural workers in Africa are women and in Asia six out of ten are women. Rural women often represent approximately two thirds of the 400 million poor livestock keepers.

Nearly half of all deaths of children under the age of five are attributable to undernutrition. Anemia, caused by poor nutrition and deficiencies of iron and other micronutrients, affects 42 per cent of all pregnant women globally and contributes to maternal mortality and low birth weight.

It is therefore even more inexcusable that women continue to face many barriers and constraints including limited access to assets and resources necessary for food security as well as disproportionately bear the impact of food insecurity. It is estimated that 60 percent of the world's chronically hungry people are women and girls.

Rural ringing women and girls have been found to be impacted disproportionately from food insecurity and experience the triple burden of malnutrition (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity).

Women tend to face higher barriers than men to productive resources, economic opportunities, and decision-making, that would help alleviate food insecurity. For farming women, the lack of access to agricultural inputs, services, credit, and markets constrain agricultural productivity growth and agricultural production, making the arduous pathway out of poverty especially difficult.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the productivity levels of female workers in agriculture are between 20 and 30 per cent lower than those of male workers, purely because of the gender gap in access to resources. Moreover, food preferences, taboos and consumption patterns give rise to differential gender outcomes on food security, as men and boys get preferential food access in some contexts. In time of food scarcity, women tend to eat last and least.

Women's participation in decision making processes and in the leadership of rural institutions remains low - which has led to women's rights, contributions and priorities to be largely overlooked by mainstream policies and institutions on agriculture, food security and nutrition.

More on This

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    Not True That Hunger Doesn't Discriminate - It Does

Also, gender inequalities in the distribution of unpaid care work burden both in developed and in developing countries continue to deprive women from opportunities for paid work, education, and political participation, all of which have a bearing on their food security and nutrition.

It is therefore clear that achieving sustainable development and peace and security will continue to challenge humanity if gender disparities in agriculture, food security and nutrition remain unaddressed.

This year's World Food Day should therefore be a reminder that empowering women and unleashing their untapped potential to increase agricultural production is critical to the achievement of food and nutrition security, in improving rural livelihoods and in generating income and overall well-being of their households and communities.

The inextricable links between gender equality and food security have gained enormous momentum in the international agenda. In 1995 the Beijing Platform for Action recognized that women were key to reducing poverty and ensuring food security.

The Platform for Action called upon Member States and all stakeholders to formulate and implement policies and programmes that enhance women's access to financial, technical, extension and marketing services. It also highlighted the need to improve women's access to and control over land and appropriate financing, infrastructure and technology.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable (the 2030) recognized both as sustainable development goals (Goal 2 for food security and ending hunger, and Goal 5 for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls), and stressed that both goals are mutually reinforcing and enabling factors in the overall achievement of sustainable development.

Many crosscutting targets in terms of both gender equality and food security include ending hunger and addressing the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women (SDG 2.2), eliminating discrimination against women in laws, policy and practice (SDG 5.1).

Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda recognizes that women's empowerment and control over resources reinforces nutritional health of their children (SDG 2.1). One specific group of women whose rights to economic resources must be enhanced (SDG 5.a.) is small-scale women food producers. Ensuring women's rights and improving their access to land, resources and incomes (SDGs 2.3 and 1.4) will be critical to achieving a number of goals.

The Agreed Conclusions of the 61st Session of Commission on the Status of Women (March 2017) recognized the crucial role that rural women in particular have in food security, particularly in poor and vulnerable households and how it is important to achieve rural women's empowerment as well as their full, equal and effective participation at all levels of decision making. Interventions on the ground aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity must focus on the protagonists of agriculture, who are mainly women in many rural contexts.

The international community is increasingly recognizing not only that women are on the front lines of food security, but that their needs and rights must be placed at the forefront of trade and agricultural policies and investments if sustainable development and peace and security are to be realized.

Today it is more evident than ever that closing the gender gap in agricultural productivity could potentially lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and hunger and address losses in economic growth opportunities.

Bold and decisive action is critical to end the discrimination faced by women not only as a matter of justice and equality; but also to tackle the factors that are holding back agricultural production. Stability in the food market depends on increased investment in agriculture, particularly in developing countries, where 98 percent of the hungry live and where food production needs to double by 2050 to feed growing populations.

Strengthening support and investment in the agricultural sector, should go in hand with acknowledging women's contributions to food security and ensuring their equal rights and equal access to resources, assets and opportunities.

Measures to advance towards this aim include supporting the contributions of rural women and women farmers and ensuring that they have equal access to agricultural technologies, through investments, innovation in small-scale agricultural production and distribution.

This in turn must be supported through policies that improve productive capacity and strengthen their resilience, addressing the existing gaps in and barriers to trading their agricultural products in local, regional and international markets. Better disaggregated data that shows where in the food systems women are, as well as their situation in terms of food security and nutrition is also urgently needed.

Gender differences in land tenure and access to productive resources are particularly relevant as rural women are significant contributors to global food production. We must ensure rural women's full and equal rights to land and inheritance, land tenure security, common property and common resources and equal access to justice and legal support, by designing, reforming and enforcing relevant laws and policies.

Control over and ownership of assets can provide women with greater protection and stronger fallback positions, enhancing their bargaining power within the household and their capacity for economic independence. We must also promote women's involvement in climate-resilient agriculture as farmers, workers, and agriculture and food entrepreneurs.

All these efforts require transformative financing and investment, both targeted and mainstreamed also in terms of advocacy and support from all multistakeholders. Member States, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector should to take new and concrete actions for the full and accelerated implementation of the gender equality international commitments. It is equally as crucial to engage with grassroots women organisations and rural women organisations in the implementation of these commitments.

It is critical to ensuring equal access to and control over productive resources, provision of quality basic services and infrastructure, and support to women smallholder farmers to improve productivity and resilience of food supplies, so that women are able to reach their potential as key game changers to ensure global food and nutrition security.

At the current 72nd session of the UN General Assembly these issues will be addressed by the international community and the global norms, standards and policy commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women as a precondition and objective of food security for all will be strengthened. The report of the Secretary-General on Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas (A/72/207) highlights the efforts of Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to address challenges faced by women and girls in rural areas, especially the poorest and most marginalized.

The report's recommendations cover in particular economic and social policies, ending violence against women and girls, education, health, land, inheritance and property rights, decent work and social protection, labour-saving infrastructure and technology.

On the battle against climate change, we must recognize and support the potential of women as agents of change for climate mitigation and adaptation, which remains relatively untapped. The upcoming 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will recognise the vital role women play in sustainable development and in the implementation of climate policies, including through its Gender Action Plan which is being pushed for finalization at COP 23.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) recognizes the role of women in ensuring sustainable livelihoods and by encouraging the equal participation of women in capacity building. The UNCCD Advocacy Policy Framework (APF) on gender recognizes that it is through the full participation of local people, especially women, that efforts to combat desertification can be most effective.

The forthcoming 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women with its priority theme of 'challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,' will also signal the determination to make the universe of food, nutrition and agriculture one that is powered by and is empowering for women and girls.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year's World Food Day on October 16.

opinion By Jan-Philipp Scholz

The number of people in Africa suffering from hunger had been receding for some years. But it is now on the rise again. 26 million Africans face starvation. A special series by DW Africa explains why.

It is one of those situation when you really only understand what happened after it is over. A doctor and a nurse try to revive a little child. Sitting on her bed, the parents don't move. After a couple of minutes, the doctor orders all revival efforts to be stopped. A quiet sobbing fills the silence; then a cry. An orderly pulls up a screen to give the parents some privacy. We don't see what happens next.

This incident which took place in a clinic in northern Kenya was the most difficult emotional moment of our research trip through African regions hit by hunger. It made very clear that the 26 million people threatened with starvation are not a statistic and that for many of these people hunger is more than just a threat. The little girl in the Kenyan hospital did not die in an accident or from an incurable disease. She died because she had not eaten for too long.

Hunger doesn't make the headlines

DW reporters crossed many African countries for several weeks to track the hunger crisis. They talked to development helpers, experts, politicians and above all to the people affected to find out more about the reasons for so much suffering.

Some time ago, aid organizations started raising the alarm on hunger in Africa, which is why this series of reports is so timely. They have been warning that an expanding drought could result in one of the most terrible hunger catastrophes of the last decades in Africa and the Yemen. But soon the predicted crises stopped making the headlines - although the situation hasn't really improved. In South Sudan and Somalia, two of the hardest hit countries, 14 million people remain dependent on food aid.

People as the main cause

What led to these dramatic situations? The reports' answer to that is unequivocal: people did, not nature. Worldwide climate change, massive deforestation and one-sided cultivation are making life increasingly difficult for African small-scale farmers.

But political conflicts have even more devastating consequences. Countries most affected by hunger such as Nigeria,South Sudanand Somalia, are either embroiled in a civil war or they are fighting terrorists. In these countries, the state has failed to provide basic needs like providing health services, education or security. In lieu of which small elites are busy filling their own pockets in countries which often have considerable resources.

Cautious optimism

Nevertheless, DW's reporters also came back with stories of hope. For instance, after more than 20 years of civil war, at the start of 2017 Somalia got a new government. This had many observers voicing cautious optimism. And everywhere the reporters met people who grow beyond themselves in exceptional circumstances and do not just give up. Because people are not only the cause of hunger, they are also its solution.

The United Nations says attacks on schools worldwide are on the rise, with more than 500 attacks in the first six months of the year, many of them in war zones.

Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special representative for children in armed conflict, told a U.N. Security Council meeting that 2017 might be a record year for the number of schools bombed and destroyed.

In 2016, Gamba said the United Nations was able to verify 753 attacks on schools and hospitals. But she said the actual number is likely much higher because many places are too dangerous for U.N. staff to enter.

She said a new pattern of attacks has emerged in recent years that have targeted schoolchildren, teachers and education facilities. She said this could have happened because schools are seen as a symbol of the state or armed groups are unhappy with the school’s curriculum.

Gamba said girls and their parents are especially targeted in an effort to stop the educational progress of girls.

She noted that in Nigeria, Boko Haram has conducted brutal attacks against children and schools. Gamba said 1,500 schools in northeastern Nigeria have been destroyed by Boko Haram since 2014.

In Afghanistan, she said girls’ education remains a direct target. She said in one instance in April 2016, the Taliban forced 28 school principals to attend a meeting where they demanded that no girls older than 11 should attend school.

In Somalia, Islamic militant group al-Shabab compels children to attend madrassas organized by the group and reportedly attempts to train them as soldiers, Gamba said.

And in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 174 attacks on schools were verified between April and June 2017, Gamba said. She added the majority of schools were burned down in the Kasai region by militia fighters.

“Attacking schools not only deprives children of an education; it robs them of a future. It can take decades to reinstall skilled teachers and build the physical infrastructure to provide a proper education for all,” she said.

By Adela Suliman

London — With the construction industry a big driver of climate change, can changes in materials make a difference?

Potatoes reborn as insulation, peanuts processed into partition boards and mushroom bricks that grow in five days - just some of the ways the building trade could change its wasteful ways and construct virtuous new cities.

In a report released on Wednesday, international engineering firm Arup set out novel ways for an industry that devours raw materials to cut waste.

"We need to move away from our 'take, use, dispose' mentality," Guglielmo Carra, European lead for materials consulting at Arup, said in a statement.

"What we need now is for the industry to come together to scale up this activity so that it enters the mainstream."

Arup said common organic food waste such as bananas, potatoes and peanut shells could be refigured into building materials to cut food waste and lower carbon emissions.

The global construction industry is one the world's largest users of raw materials, with cement production alone responsible for an estimated 5 percent of carbon emissions, more than the airline industry.

Countries such as India are pushing to create "green homes" while aluminium smelters are responding to the demands of regulators and developers to produce low-carbon materials.

Traditionally, food waste is managed through landfill, incineration and composting. But the design and engineering firm said if food waste could be diverted and reused, it could become a key architectural resource.

WASTE NOT

More than 40 million tonnes of dried organic waste from agriculture and forestry were produced in Europe in 2014, according to Arup, with the amount growing each year.

Along with using food waste, the report explored the creation of novel building materials such as mushroom bricks that take five days to grow and cultivated micro-algae facades, along with manufacturing processes that use 3D printing.

About a third of food produced around the world is never eaten because it is spoiled after harvest and in transportation, or thrown away by shops and consumers.

The report by Arup is part of a wider bid to encourage the so-called "circular economy" across the construction industry.

Large multinationals such as Unilever, Renault, Google and Nike are some of the companies starting to move toward a circular business model, experts say.

Cities such as London, Amsterdam and Paris are also looking at how they can shift to a circular economy, in essence reusing products, parts and materials, producing no waste and pollution, and using fewer new resources and energy.

"We welcome the report and its findings on the way the circular economy can deliver huge benefits in the construction industry," said Joe Iles of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which supports the circular economy concept.

"These bio-materials can perform as well or even better than conventional options," said Iles, which is "good news" for developers, the environment and the economy as a whole.

 - Reporting by Adela Suliman; editing by Lyndsay Griffiths

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is reporting on resilience as part of its work on zilient.org, an online platform building a global network of people interested in resilience, in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation.

Photo: Addis Standard

Merera Gudina is the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress.

Appearing in court for the first time after the court's summer recess, Dr. Merera Gudina has pleaded his innocence against all criminal charges brought by the federal prosecutors.The defense team told the court that Dr. Merera's plea of innocence was late by eleven months since the charges were brought against him.

The Federal high court 19th criminal bench adjourned next hearing to begin to hear prosecutor's witnesses for Nov. 03/2017.

It is to be remembered that on July 07, Dr. Merera's defense team had requested the court to get the full list of prosecutors' witnesses. The court then refereed the request to the council of the house of federation for constitutional interpretations.

Today's hearing happened after the decision by the council of the House of Federation, which ruled that witness protection is not in violation of the constitution and that the court can proceed the hearing while protecting the identities of prosecutor's witnesses.

Accordingly, the court will begin the hearing of prosecutor's witnesses on Nov. 03 without having to avail the full list of witnesses to Dr. Merera Gudina's defense team. The court also decided to continue hearing of co-defendant's case in absentia. AS

Photo: Shabelle

The most powerful blast ever witnessed in Mogadishu has killed 276 people and injured 300 others, the country’s information minister said early on Monday. The toll was expected to rise.

By Harun Maruf

The death toll from Saturday's massive truck bombing in the Somali capital Mogadishu - the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history - has topped 270.

Abdirahman O. Osman, Somalia's minister of information, tweeted that the number killed is now 276, with about 300 wounded. He also laid blame for the bombing on the Islamist militant al-Shabab group.

In other tweets, Osman acknowledged Kenya, Ethiopia, and Turkey for sending medical aid to Somalia.

Angry protesters took to the streets condemning al-Shabab. The militant group, which often claims attacks in Mogadishu, has so far stayed silent. But the Somali government and terror experts strongly believe the group was responsible.

"Whether they claim or not claim makes no difference, we know the act that has happened, it’s al-Shabab,” former intelligence officer Abdi Hassan Hussein told VOA. “The information we are getting so far shows this is the work of al-Shabab, it has their hallmarks."

Hundreds of residents on Sunday marched to the scene of the attack, condemning the militant group.

“Where is my child, fight against the wicked, to hell with them, my god condemn the evil,” said one elderly angry women. Other protesters shouted anti al-Shabab statements like, “We don’t want blood thirsty elements”.

Some protesters wept as they reached the scene and saw the apocalyptic aftermath of the explosion. The truck bomb turned one of Mogadishu’s most beautiful junctions into death and destruction.

US reaction

In Washington, the U.S. State Department condemned the attack "in the strongest terms."

"In the face of this senseless and cowardly act, the United States will continue to stand with the Somali government, its people, and our international allies to combat terrorism and support their efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity," a statement said.

Mohamed Yusuf, a doctor at Medina hospital, described what happened when the explosion happened at around 3:20 pm local time on Saturday.

“We were preparing to leave work for the day but then huge blast occurred, we were shocked, within five minutes ambulances brought in the wounded,” he said. “We have received many dead people, unlike we have ever seen. The hospital is working, we are lacking intensive care equipment, we get support from ICRC but we are still lacking full capacity.”

The victims

Maryan Abdullahi, 21, just finished Banadir University where she studied medicine. She left her voluntary work at Banadir hospital Saturday and was waiting a bus when the explosion occurred. She was killed instantly. He mother Hindo Yuusuf immediately called her number when she heard about the location of the explosion.

“I called her number immediately but someone else answered and they said the owner of the phone died, her body is near the hotel [Safari],” she told VOA Somali.

Abdullahi’s father flew from London Saturday to attend his daughter’s graduation from the university. He arrived in Mogadishu Sunday morning and attended her funeral instead.

Also killed were five members of the same family who were running a clothing shop.

Aweys Moallim Ali is a cousin to the family. He too was wounded in the attack. He said his relatives own two shops but they gathered into one before the explosion.

“They were doing accounting work about the sales made so far so that they can make zakat [alms] payment, they closed the other shop and were meeting in a shop near Hotel Safari,” He said.

VOA reporter

Hundreds were wounded in the attack including VOA reporter in Mogadishu Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle.

Abdulle sustained injuries to the neck, hand and burns throughout the body. But he was in good spirits as he spoke about his condition.

“I’m injured in the lower neck, there is shrapnel inside. I have a second injury on the right hand, maybe it’s broken, and third, my body is burned in particular on the torso,” he said. "I have smaller injuries throughout the body, facial injuries, I had about 4 stitches on the face, I have multiple injuries.”

Abdulle recounted what happened at the time of the explosion

“I remember leaving the building near Safari hotel, I wanted to get into my car, as I stepped towards the car the explosion went off, that is all I remember,” he said.

‘The next thing I know is this morning when I woke up at 10am when I saw people standing around my bed.”

The Somali government has called for three days of national mourning and lowering the flag at half-mast. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has condemned the attack as “barbaric.”

Sahra Ahmed, Asha Aden, Jafar Kukay and Kenneth Schwartz contributed to this report.

By Amanda Sperber

Mogadishu — In this Somali village, residents say life under al Shabaab Islamists is safer than when the government controlled the area

In Somalia's Raqayle village, life under al Shabaab Islamists can be brutal, with public beheadings, and bizarre - with edicts about wearing socks - but locals feel safer than when the government controlled the area and violently ousted them.

More than 70 villagers fled to nearby Afgoye town in 2014 when a dozen government soldiers and policemen forced them off a 128-acre farm, which was claimed by an exile returning from Britain.

"They were just terrorising us," said one villager, Hodan, describing how the man from the diaspora sped in with cars full of armed men who smashed in doors with their rifles, looted water pumps and filled a well with sand and debris.

"My sister, who was five months pregnant, was so upset she miscarried," another villager, Warsame, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, which is about an hour's drive southeast of Raqayle.

Both women declined to give their real names.

Similar stories can be heard across south-central Somalia, where better security is encouraging wealthy exiles who fled in the 1990s to return home - often igniting fresh land conflicts.

Since 2011, United Nations-backed government forces and African Union troops have pushed the militant group al Shabaab out of major towns and cities.

"The federal government is encouraging diaspora to come back," Somalia's information minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation via email.

"The country needs their skills, knowledge, and expertise."

Osman said conflict can arise when returnees start rebuilding on land which others have lived on for decades.

"There are special committees dealing with all disputes, and if there are serious cases then courts settle them," he said.

RIGHTS BY BLOOD

Resolving tens of thousands of land disputes, some of which date back to the 1970s, is a complex task as the process is unclear, said Kenneth Menkhaus, a political science professor at Davidson College in the United States.

"It's a mess," he said, adding that side with the most firepower, money or influential clan connections usually wins.

"Armed settlers claims on land are illegitimate - they are just a form of land grabbing."

Clans form the bedrock of Somali society and identity, and decisions about most aspects of life are made collectively within them.

"One's claim to land is anchored pretty strongly to one's clan," Menkhaus said by phone. "This is rights by blood."

In Raqayle, the returning exile belongs to a more powerful clan than the villagers, said Ubdi Omar Wallin, founder of the charity Women in Action Against Malnutrition (WAAMO), which took the land dispute to court.

"(He) didn't come to the villagers and say: 'This is my land'," said Wallin, who has lived in the United States since she was 17, when her family fled that part of Somalia.

"He just did all the paperwork by himself and came up with soldiers to destroy," she said, referring to the title deeds acquired by the new owner.

WAAMO had been supporting a group of poor widows, including Hodan and Warsame, who were given a three-acre portion of the 128-acre farm by its owner, who lived in the village.

The charity provided the women with irrigation and a daycare centre in 2013, so that they could grow okra, cucumbers and peppers, selling the excess at a local market.

But the land lay idle after the government militia took over, carrying out regular patrols. They allowed the villagers to return home, but they did not feel secure enough to farm.

The court case stalled as the respondent did not attend.

The villagers of Raqayle only picked up their seeds and tools again after al Shabaab recaptured the area in 2015.

Few Somalis have faith in the judicial system, which is plagued by graft, or in the government, where both the president and the prime minister are diaspora returnees.

Menkhaus said the government should set up a land tribunal or a hybrid commission that included traditional authorities and land experts who are regarded as clean.

"That is where al Shabaab has far and away the greatest advantage on this land issue," he said, as the militants are seen as less corrupt.

The Islamists often bring wrangling parties together to agree on a solution, asking elders to give testimony about the history of disputed plots, the women of Raqayle said.

The villagers now live under Sharia law, which includes decapitation of government collaborators and a fine of bullets and guns for chewing the narcotic shrub khat.

Women were even ordered to wear socks for modesty while washing in the river, until one slipped and got hurt and the edict was revoked, they said.

But, generally, life is peaceful.

"Now, there is no harassment by soldiers," said Shemsa, one of the widow farmers.

"We don't go to (al Shabaab), and they don't come to us."

Reporting by Amanda Sperber. Editing by Katy Migiro.

By Aggrey Mutambo

Western donors want National Super Alliance leader, Raila Odinga, to rescind his withdrawal from the upcoming repeat election, even as they insist on respect for the IEBC.

The move by the Opposition last week may have surprised many of the envoys, after they had pressured both sides of the political divide to let the IEBC do its job and plan for elections.

However, Mr Odinga argued he and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka were withdrawing from the race because the electoral agency had not heeded their call for reforms.

"We called on all actors to participate and respect the Constitution. We are reviewing the practical implications of this withdrawal," a senior diplomat from the European Union Delegation in Kenya told the Nation, suggesting the Supreme Court may be required to "pronounce itself on this matter."

REGRET DECISION

"We regret this decision and we feel it would have been better if the Constitution, and the Supreme Court ruling, are respected."

Asked on possible sanctions, the EU official said his bloc were considering none at the moment, but said the EU sees a peaceful election as a better pathway to stability.

The EU has been indirectly supporting programmes at the IEBC. Through the UNDP, the European body, the UK and the US, they pumped about Sh500 million for programmes that range from training to civic education.

Recently, the UK called on all parties to ensure the presidential election is held according to the ruling of the Supreme Court.

"The UK has called for a free, fair and peaceful presidential election in Kenya in line with the constitution. We are disappointed by opposition candidate Raila Odinga's decision to withdraw from the contest scheduled for 26 October," a spokesperson at the UK High Commission in Nairobi said in a statement.

VIOLENCE

"We call on all parties to work together to ensure that democratic elections take place in line with the ruling by the Supreme Court. This is in the best interest of all Kenyans."

The UK maintained all parties must work within the Constitution and other Kenyan law warning "anybody engaging in or inciting violence should be held accountable by Kenya's institutions."

"We have been clear that the international community is watching Kenya and every step of its electoral process closely. Action should be taken against any individual engaging in or inciting violence. The UK reserves the right to take our own action at a later date, should it prove necessary, which includes considering the refusal or revocation of visas."

Last week, the US said it respected the decision by Nasa to move out of the race was within their right, but said it is regrettable.

"We respect the right of Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga and deputy presidential candidate Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka to withdraw from the Kenyan election scheduled for October 26, but we regret their decision to do so," US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said.

NEW POLL

"It is unfortunate that the IEBC and the political parties could not reach broad agreement on the conduct of the new poll."

Mr Godec maintained the US remains a neutral partner but said it viewed the election as "an extraordinarily important for the future of Kenya.

"We urge all Kenyans to come together to support their Constitution, their institutions, and to work for an election that is free, fair, credible, transparent, and peaceful. We stand with all Kenyans working to hold the best possible election and to deepen democracy, advance prosperity, and strengthen the security of their great country."

The diplomats from US, UK, EU, Germany and Australia had last week warned of unspecified sanctions against trouble makers.

They generally saw both the demands from Nasa and Jubilee as difficult to solve, given the tight schedule.

"Elections should happen as ordered. We had seen some demands from both sides as unreasonable," said the EU diplomat.

"Others are not, but then we have strict timelines by the Supreme Court."

Photo: Paulina Zidi/RFI

An area close to the city center of Antananarivo, Madagascar.

By Socrates Mbamalu

The island of Madagascar has been experiencing annual plague outbreaks since 1980. This year however, a worse form of plague, pneumonic plague has hit the country and it has health officials battling to contain it.

The island of Madagascar has been hit by pneumonic plague, which has left at least 42 people dead and 343 people infected. The plague has hit major cities in the country and has spread to Seychelles.

Pneumonic plague, is a severe lung infection caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, and the symptoms include fever, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. It is fatal if left untreated, and it is said to be the most lethal form of plague. The plague is transmitted from rats to humans by fleas. Other forms of plague include bubonic and septicaemic. Bubonic plague is spread by infected rats via flea bite, pneumonic by person-to-person transmission. The current outbreak includes both forms of plague. Nearly half of the cases identified so far are of pneumonic plague.

Comparisons have been drawn between the plague outbreak in Madagascar and the Great Plague of 1665. The Great Plague killed an estimated 100,000 people, almost a quarter of London's population.

The treatment for pneumonic plague is antibiotics and the World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and released $1.5 million to fight the outbreak.

Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye the WHO Representative in Madagascar said the "Plague is curable if detected in time. Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save."

The plague started in August this year. Despite WHO's advice against flight restriction on Madagascar, Air Seychelles suspended its flights to Madagascar temporarily.

WHO has distributed medicines to health facilities and mobile health clinics. It has also partnered with the Ministry of Health to train local health workers on how to identify, care for patients and trace people who have had close contact with symptomatic patients so that they may be given protective treatment.

According to a WHO release, Plague is endemic to Madagascar, where around 400 cases of - mostly bubonic - plague are reported annually. Contrary to past outbreaks, this one is affecting large urban areas, which increases the risk of transmission. The number of cases identified thus far is higher than expected for this time of year.

Opposition supporters are back in the streets to push for electoral reforms even after National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga pulled out of repeat presidential poll.

The Nasa supporters took to the streets of Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi in defiance of government ban on protests in central business districts of the three cities.

In Mombasa, police in full anti-riot gear lobbed teargas canisters to disperse the demonstrators.

Businesses along Moi Avenue were shut as police dispersed the protesters who were energised following a rally attended by Mr Odinga on Sunday.

During the rally, Mr Odinga, his co-principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang'ula reiterated their call for daily demos starting this week.

The protesters were marching on Moi Avenue on their way to the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) when police lobbed teargas at them.

They scampered for safety and it was not immediately is anyone was injured.

In Migori, shops, offices and hotels were closed as Nasa demonstrators  took to the streets.

The protesters, led by ex-Migori MP John Pesa carried a mock coffin of IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba as they marched along the deserted streets.

Police watched them from a distance and did not  interfere with the demos.

The Nasa supporters marched to the IEBC offices in the county where they were addressed by their leaders.

In Siaya, business premises were closed as hundreds of residents thronged the streets.

The protesters, led by Siaya County speaker George Okode and a section of ward representatives, marched to IEBC offices to present their petition.

In an address to the protesters, Mr Okode said Siaya Count Assembly has adjourned indefinitely to join the daily anti-IEBC demos.

Mr Okode said that there will be no formal or informal sittings at the assembly until all Nasa reforms are met by the electoral agency.

More follows.

Reporting by Victor Otieno, Elisha Otieno, Mohamed Ahmed, Nelcon Odhiambo

By Allan Olingo

Tanzania's change of mining laws have come to the fore after Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote said that the new laws would potentially scare away investors.

The comments have already drawn a response from President John Magufuli's administration, which termed them as unfortunate given the kind of 'assistance' Dangote's investment has received.

"These policies scare away investors and that once an investor has left it is very difficult to bring that investor back. Tanzania needs to take another look at these new laws. These policies need to be clearly defined and investors need to be reassured that their investments are safe," Mr Dangote, who has a $620 million cement factory in Mtwara, Tanzania, said.

New policies

Mr Dangote, speaking during the Financial Times Africa Summit in London, said that the new policies were harmful, mostly because of the 'backdoor' plan by Tanzania to eventually own 16 per cent of all firms at zero cost.

"The plan by parliament to allow the government to take 16 per cent of an investor's assets for free is basically coming through the backdoor to seize assets.

They can come back in the next few years and take a majority of the shares at their price. It is a wrong policy. Once you chase an investor out, it will be very difficult to bring that investor back. They have scared quite a number and this is not a good thing," Mr Dangote is said to have told the summit.

However, Tanzania's Minister for Investment, Charles Mwijage, defended the administration, terming Mr Dangote's comments unfortunate in the light of the president's ready assistance to the billionaire's cement investment in the country.

"The government's investment policies are clear, transparent and aimed at ensuring that the government also benefits from the country's resources. The "free carried interest" is a requirement for companies operating in the extractive industry that existed in Tanzanian laws even before the recent review. Investors in the extractive industry are obliged to cede 16 per cent free carried interest to the government to ensure the country benefits from its natural resources," Mr Mwijage said.

"Once a company invests in the extractive sector, the government share should not be less than 16 per cent free carried interest. This is not wrong at all as the natural resources are ours," Mr Mwijage said, during an interview with The Citizen.

In December 2016, Mr Dangote ran afoul with policies regarding the use of coal and access to gas reserves, which saw him fly into Dar es salaam to have the issues resolved.

Fraud accusation

In a response to the minister, Mr Dangote maintained that his relationship with President Magufuli remains cordial and hinted that his comments might have been taken out of context.

"Our relationship is okay. I can always call him as I have his mobile number, and he listens to me," Mr Dangote said, adding that sometimes it is just a matter of communication, when describing how investors sort out contractual arrangements with foreign governments.

Miners in Tanzania have in recent months run afoul of the new policies that have affected the operations of Acacia mining and Petra Diamonds.

Two months ago, Acacia mining was slapped with a $190 billion tax demand having been accused of underdeclaration. This saw it scale down operations while its shares listed in London plummeted 50 per cent since the start of the year.

Petra Diamonds also listed in London, was last month prevented from exporting a diamond consignment after it was accused of underdeclaring it by $14.9 million.

It temporarily closed its Williamson mine and on Monday last week, it announced that it would not be able to meet its debt obligations this year and would have to renegotiate with its lenders.

Better Future Foundation (BFF), proponent of Liberia Democracy Sustainability Platform (DSP), has applauded the mass turnout of citizens for October 10, 2017 presidential and legislative elections in the country.

In a release issued in Monrovia, BFF however, expressed regret that such mass turnout could not be translated into an inclusive participation of all registered voters in the polls.

The youth and student advocacy group also described as unfortunate the gross lack of infrastructure in the country to the extent that some of the facilities that played host to the presidential and legislative elections were unfit to serve the mass turnout, leaving many registered voters particularly pregnant women, nursing mothers, elderly, physically challenged among others totally disenfranchised.

BFF also flagged a number of challenges which it said were associated with Tuesday polls including delay with respect to the arrival of election materials to some polling centers, voters identification numbers, late commencement and closure of vote cast and counting as well as the apparent inability of some of NEC polling officers to educate and /or guide voters.

In its release signed by Mr. Augustine Arkoi, Founder and President, BFF also pointed out that several individuals who were in possession of valid voting cards could not cast their ballots when their names and identification numbers could not be traced in NEC's official register at multiple polling centers across the country.

Nevertheless, BFF applauded Liberian electorate who remain above violence during the polls on Tuesday amid various challenges.

Meanwhile, BFF has called on all political parties, presidential and legislative candidates to show not only full compliance to electoral laws and regulations but also ensure that their followers remain committed to non-violence elections.

Windhoek — Ovamba Solutions, Inc. and Microsoft have partnered to develop and produce the first African language driven 'chat-bot' designed to serve the millions of African SMEs that face exclusion from financial services due to the challenges of functional and business literacy. The chat-bot was conceived, designed and created by Ovamba and Microsoft and will be rolled out via Ovamba's mobile app, 'Ovamba Plus'.

Ovamba's president and co-founder, Viola Llewellyn, and chief technology officer, Prashant Mahajan, expressed their innovative ambitions to Josh Holmes, director of Microsoft Partner Catalyst Division at Microsoft's Seattle, Washington campus.

In delving into the challenges of FinTech solutions on the African continent, Viola Llewellyn explained to Microsoft: "Current banking processes and some FinTech solutions are supposed to help the financially disenfranchised. Bank solutions, application forms and contracts assume that all SMES are fully literate, and actually end up further alienating those who may not be able to read or speak French, English, Arabic or any other colonial language. If we don't address this then we are missing the true promise of FinTech and the opportunity to include the informal sector in GDP count."

In response to the opportunity to serve the African continent, Microsoft put a team together headed up by Shawn Cicoria, Lilian Kasem and Claudius Mbemba to help Ovamba create the chat-bot.

Prashant Mahajan led Ovamba's tech team on the project and commented on the potential to help the millions who need support to grow. "Ovamba has been supporting SMEs with 'Growth-As-A-Service®' for the last year and realizes that business training and formal education are a luxury not afforded to some members of Africa's entrepreneurial sector, and are often taught in western languages. We can help them to sustain growth by delivering business support and training in the language that they are most used to."

Claudius Mbemba shared the Partner Catalyst Team's enthusiasm for the project on the Microsoft Developer blog stating, "We plan to continue our work with Ovamba, especially building an African dialect language recognition system to enable application localization and cater to the specific dialects of their customers."

The team added: "We look forward to tackling these challenges and more in our future work with Ovamba."

Ovamba is a US-founded FinTech innovator that develops online platforms and mobile applications to serve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets with short-term funding for growth.

Ovamba raises capital from global investors to fund the SMEs and uses its tech to solve business and functional literacy challenges to promote financial inclusion.

Ovamba's application 'Ovamba Plus' is available for Android phones as a download.

Ovamba was co-founded by Marvin Cole and Viola Llewellyn in April 2013. Ovamba has offices in the USA, Cameroon, India, Mauritius and South Africa. Expansions are planned for Ghana, Senegal, Sudan and other countries in 2018.

Photo: Seychelles News Agency

Belle Vue (La Digue) From 300m high, this view point is situated on the island of La Digue, the third-most populated island of Seychelles. As the name suggest it’s a beautiful view of some of islands close by including Ile Coco, Felicite, Marianne, l’Ilot Ave Maria and the island of Mahe and Praslin in the distance.

Eight out of 18 tourism projects excluded from a moratorium on large hotels in Seychelles could be reallocated if the project backers don't begin construction within a year, said a top official of the ministry of tourism.

Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Port and Marine, said the decision was taken because promoters of the eight projects have taken too long to develop them.

"We are targeting those investors who have obtained approval more than five years ago and still have not done anything. Some have even had up to 10 years," the minister said.

Loustau-Lalanne said that the tourism department is going to write to the respective investors and give them one year to decide if they want to go ahead with their project.

"We think that they will not be able to do anything within the course of one year. Therefore, we will be able to take back 1,300 rooms for redistribution,"

Loustau-Lalanne said.

The moratorium on large hotel projects except those already approved by the government was announced by the Seychelles' former president, James Michel, during the Independence Day celebrations on June 29, 2015.

The moratorium was prolonged to the end of 2020 by the Seychelles' President Danny Faure in his State of the Nation address in February.

Large hotels are defined as those having 25 rooms or more. The moratorium does not include small establishments of 15 rooms or less which are reserved for Seychellois.

Old and abandoned hotels are also to be reallocated and they account for more than 700 which are counted as part of the approximate 5300 existing hotel room quota. These include Reef Hotel and Equator Hotel.

According to statistics from the Tourism Ministry, there are 541 tourism establishments in operation that have 5,849 rooms.

The tourism minister said that when the department did its research, the feedback from tour operators was that there is not enough room to accommodate visitors.

"As Seychelles is experiencing an economic growth in the tourism sector, it is unacceptable to note that there are not enough rooms. This why we also need to redistribute these projects to investors that are ready to develop," said Loustau-Lalanne.

The Criteria for reallocation will be drawn up on a case-by-case basis and once approved these projects will be subjected to environmental impact assessments and the requirements of regulatory bodies such as the Seychelles Planning Authority.

With the addition of the new hotels excluded from the moratorium, an additional 4,000 rooms will be available in the island nation to accommodate visitors.

Commenting on the Grand Police Bay hotel, which has now been declared a protected area by the Cabinet of Ministers, in June, Loustau-Lalanne, said that their number of rooms have been taken back as well and discussion is ongoing with the developers.

Tourism remains the top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. In the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in January, over 304,000 visitors came to Seychelles last year, compared with 275,000 in 2015.

Photo: The Citizen

Agriculture and Livestock minister, Dr Charles Tizeba.

By Rehema Matowo This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Geita — Agriculture and Livestock minister, Dr Charles Tizeba, has directed the ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mr Methew Mtigumwe, to sack three officials and suspend three others over corruption allegations.

The minister issued the directive on Sunday during the commemoration of World Food Day, which was held here on Monday, October 16, 2017.

Dr Tizeba said the officials caused the government a loss of Sh29 billion by disbursing agricultural subsidies to unqualified farmers in the 2015/16 agricultural season.

The minister also directed the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to launch investigations against the officials.

Those who face the axe following the minister's directive are deputy director of Agricultural Subsidies Shenal Nyoni, agriculture officers Michael Mayabu and Frank Kamhabwaa.

Those who will be suspended are director of Crop Production Twahir Nzallawahe, director of Procurement And Extension Services Burhan Shaban and acting director of Agriculture Subsidies at the ministry Canuth Komba.

By Obey Manayiti

ZIMBABWE Republic Police (ZRP) and municipal police yesterday maintained a strong presence in Harare's central business district as they continued with their clampdown on vendors.

Police last week started clearing the capital's streets of vendors and pirate taxis after President Robert Mugabe complained of chaos in the CBD.

On Thursday police deployed water cannons at various strategic places, including MDC-T headquarters in anticipation of a backlash from vendors.

Although there were pockets of resistance from vendors on Thursday, yesterday police maintained a strong presence that kept many at bay.

However, Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) leader Samuel Wadzai said they would not be intimidated by police's presence.

"Viset would like to congratulate it's members and all who defied these intimidation tactics by the government and turned out for work," he said.

"This is the time for vendors to show unity and resilience in the face of these childish acts of provocation by the government and the message is that, we are not leaving the streets until adequate vending sites with all the facilities including ablution facilities are created."

"In the meantime, we are consulting with our lawyers with a view to approach the courts to seek an interdict to stop this wanton attack on livelihoods.

"We wish our four members who were injured on Thursday a speedy recovery and an unconditional release of the five who are still being held at Harare Central [police station]."

MDC-T condemned the raids, saying the government must first provide jobs before turning against vendors.

"Vendors are not the problem. The problem is Robert Mugabe and his clueless and corrupt Zanu PF regime," the party's spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

"Zimbabweans have got a patriotic obligation to ensure that at next year's elections, the Zanu PF regime is totally removed from power, warts and all."

Social movement Tajamuka condemned police's move, saying they would fight in the vendors' corner.

By Vincent Opiyo

The national men's football team Harambee Stars has dropped 14 places in the latest rankings released by world football governing body, Fifa on Monday.

Kenya is now ranked at position 102 with 345 points from the initial 88th position it occupied last month.

Neighbours Uganda moved one place up to 70th following their goalless draw against Ghana in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Stars' landslide drop has been occasioned by the 2-1 and 1-0 defeats to Asian sides Iraq and Thailand in international friendly matches last week.

On the continent, Kenya is 25th, eleven places below neighbours Uganda, who lead the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) region.

Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania follow in that order.

Kenya's next opponents in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers. Ghana are eighth in Africa and 52nd globally.

"We need not play friendly matches for the sake of it, I think it's better we go for high quality opponents who can teach a lesson or two," former international Titus Mulama told Nation Sport.

"Our current crop of players are not committed on the pitch but we can't solely blame them if they are not being motivated well enough. During our days, motivation was the key factor. I urge the federation to increase their motivational kitty so that likes of Wanyama (Victor) can't be guaranteed of Shs10 000 after a long journey from England," added the former Sofapaka midfielder, who turned provider for Dennis Oliech's lone goal against Cape Verde in 2003, sending Kenya to the 2004 AFCON.

World champions Germany remain at the helm followed by Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium. France and Spain are seventh and eighth with minnows Iceland, who qualified for their first World Cup, are placed 25th.

By Tunde Eludini

The Super Eagles of Nigeria made some marginal movement in the latest edition of the monthly FIFA rankings released on Monday by the World football governing body.

The Super Eagles climbed up three places from the 44th position in the world to the 41st spot in the October rankings.

The Nigerian national team are also now ranked fifth on the continent behind the quartet of Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Congo DR.

The upward movement for the Super Eagles can be linked to their qualification for next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia following their 1-0 win against Zambia on 7 October.

Meanwhile, Algeria who will host the Eagles in their Group B last qualifying game in November dropped five places from 62nd to 67th.

Cameroon and Zambia who are also in the Eagles' World Cup qualifying group rose from 45th to 42nd and 78th to 77th spots respectively

It is understood that Monday's rankings released by FIFA is quite crucial as it would influence how the World Cup draws that will be conducted on December 1.

From the 23 teams that have already qualified for the World Cup already, Nigeria are the 18th highest ranked team.

The Super Eagles are expected to move further down the ladder by the time the 32 teams billed to compete in Russia are complete and that will likely see Nigeria in Pot 4 for the draws.

As reflected in this latest rankings, Germany are number one, Brazil are number two, Portugal are in third position, Argentina in fourth and Belgium fifth.

In sixth are Poland, France are seventh, Spain eighth, Chile ninth and Peru complete the roster of the top ten teams in the world.

By Ndi Eugene Ndi

Yaoundé — Morocco has been designated to host the 2018 Total African Nations Championship (Chan), the Confederation of African Football (CAF), said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement said Caf's emergency committee met in Nigeria on Saturday and 'unanimously decided' to grant the organisation of the tournament to the Royal Moroccan Football Federation.

The meeting was presided over by Caf president Ahmad Ahmad.

Kenya was on September 23 stripped of the right to host the Chan tournament due to inadequate preparedness and security concerns over a disputed presidential contest.

Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia and Morocco had officially expressed their willingness to replace Kenya.

"The candidacy of Morocco was preferred to that of Equatorial Guinea, another country to have submitted a valid application," the CAF release read in part.

It said the Ethiopian Football Federation did not provide the government's letter of guarantee, "which is a mandatory document required by the rules of application of the Statutes of the Caf".

Total CHAN, is a competition that brings together 16 national teams exclusively of players featuring in the national championships of their respective countries.

Fifteen countries; Republic of Congo, Libya, Morocco, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Namibia have all qualified for the tournament which will take place from January 12 to February 4, 2018.

South African tennis star Kevin Anderson is the second seed at this week's ATP Stockholm Open.

Anderson, who lost in the second round of the Shanghai Masters last week, will be looking to make inroads in Sweden as he chases a spot in the coveted ATP Finals in London next month.

Anderson has dropped one position to No 16 in the rankings but remains in the reckoning to qualify for the tour finals, where the world's best eight players compete to finish the season.

Anderson is currently 12th in the race to London, but with Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka already calling time on their injury plagued seasons, the South African No 1 is essentially 10th in the race.

Anderson will therefore be looking to claim more valuable ATP rankings points at this week's ATP250 level event, where Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov is the top seed.

Anderson made headlines when he reached last month's US Open final, where he lost to world No 1 Rafael Nadal.

Source: Sport24

A number of Southern Kings players returned from their latest "mini-tour" of Europe suffering from minor upper-respiratory tract infections, says team doctor Clement Plaatjies, who also reported that most members of the squad were feeling a little stiff and nursing a bruise or two following a fortnight of PR014 action in the northern hemisphere.

"I am monitoring everyone closely but none of these issues should result in any player being unavailable for selection for the match against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday (October 28)," said Plaatjies.

Having previously feared that the shoulder injury sustained by fullback Masixole Banda in the match against Benetton was a serious one that would result in a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Plaatjies struck a note of cautious optimism saying that while the shoulder was still "tight" it was responding well to treatment and he would have a clearer idea of its severity when Banda returned to full-contact training next week.

Plaatjies also declared the knee surgery undergone by wing Sbusiso Sithole this week to have been a success and said that he would only examine the player again in two weeks time and would then be in a position to advise how long Sithole would be out of action for.

The doctor also provided an update on the rehabilitation of injured stars Kurt Coleman and CJ Velleman.

"Kurt has recovered well from a tear to his quad and it is only illness that has prevented him from training with the team this week. We will have him running within the next few days and subject to him passing strength and fitness tests he should be ready for the match against Glasgow Warriors. CJ still has some way to go before he is ready to play again but I'm happy with his progress and his projected return is February, 2018," said Plaatjies

Source: Sport24

The new finish of the Bestmed Satellite Championship road cycling classic supposedly favoured climbers, but Nolan Hoffman was fast to disprove that theory when he won the 110km race in Maropeng.

The BCX sprinter had the final say when he passed Dimension Data's Kent Main in the closing metres to take the title in 2:33:23. RoadCover's Bradley Potgieter completed the podium.

"I'm pretty chuffed to win a race that people thought climbers would win," said Hoffman, who took his third Bestmed Cycle4Cansa title at Sun City in late August.

Riding a tactically smart race, the rider from Ruimsig and team-mate David Maree joined five other riders - Bradley Potgieter (RoadCover), Ryan Harris (RoadCover), Luthando Kaka (Rand Water-Transnet), Jaco van Dyk (Cycling Box) and Chris Jooste - in a breakaway that formed within the first 20km.

"Today, with the hill at the end, I didn't think I'd be able to contest for the victory," said Hoffman, who was tasked with covering the breakaways.

"It somehow worked out that I got myself in the breakaway with six other guys. We worked well together and at some points we had four minutes on the group, and that's when my plans changed."

With about 10km to go, they reached the base of the decisive Hekpoort climb with a small advantage over the peloton. Harris and Van Dyk soon lost touch while Maree nursed Hoffman all the way to the top to keep him within 10 seconds of the leaders.

Meanwhile, a charging Main was able to bridge over to the leaders shortly after they crested the climb, leaving a group of six to fight it out for the victory.

"On the last drag to the finish, with about 700m to go, Kent attacked," explained Hoffman.

"David put in a final effort to close him down and I sprinted across to get on his wheel.

"I'm pretty happy to win a race like this, with tough, windy conditions. It's pretty cool," said the 32-year-old, who won once previously on a more forgiving course.

"It's confirmation that sometimes you can outsmart the climbers. We made sure we had a big enough gap at the base so that they wouldn't catch us and it worked out perfectly."

In the women's race, Demacon's Carla Oberholzer took her first Satellite Championship title in 3:07:07 after getting the better of former Olympian Joanna van de Winkel and Yzette Oelofse in the dash to the line.

The three were part of a breakaway that formed 30km in and it was Van de Winkel who called the shots on Hekpoort as she left both of her rivals behind.

"Jo made the pace really hard and I was the first to drop off, before Yzette did too," said the 30-year-old Oberholzer, who won the Jock Tour last month.

She continued to push hard and was able to reel Oelofse in before the top and from there they collaborated to bring Van de Winkel back with 2km to go.

Oberholzer, who won the Cycle4Cansa race in a sprint, said she knew she had to reach the final corner first to stand a chance of winning.

"My team-mates were absolutely amazing today. They did a phenomenal job protecting me and keeping me out of the wind so I'm really happy to pull off another win for Demacon."

Results:

Men

1. Nolan Hoffman 2:33:23

2. Kent Main 2:33:23

3. Bradley Potgieter 2:33:33

4. David Maree 2:33:33

5. Luthando Kaka 2:33:42

Women

1. Carla Oberholzer 3:07:07

2. Joanna van de Winkel 3:07:07

3. Yzette Oelofse 3:07:09

4. Suzan Cronje 3:09:54

5. Heidi Dalton 3:11:15

Source: Sport24

By Doaa Abdel-Motaal

Oxford, United Kingdom — Milk and cookies, macaroni and cheese, fish and chips. Some foods seem to match perfectly together to the point where one can't go without the other. Food and health, while maybe not as catchy, should be viewed in the same light. Without good food it is hard to maintain good health; without good food growing practices it is difficult to maintain a healthy planet.

It is hard to believe that in 2017, with all the advancements made in agriculture and the food industry, many people around the world still do not have enough to eat. This is a tragedy. There is more than enough food produced to feed everyone, yet according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 800 million people suffer from hunger and more than 2 billion from micronutrient deficiencies.

This will only get worse as the world population is expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. Conflict, and with it the displacement and migration of people, further compound the food security and nutrition equation. In 2017 alone a number of crises have made millions worldwide severely food insecure.

On the flip side, there are many people going to bed too full across the globe: an estimated 40% of adults and millions of children worldwide are overweight.

We are witnessing an overconsumption of food often coupled with a lower nutritional quality. This is having a major impact on obesity, heart disease and other issues, and is no doubt adding to the looming heath crisis. Obesity tends to affect poorer populations more, suggesting that the issue is not only the availability of food, but the type of food available.

It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain

We are also losing many of the traditional diets found throughout the world in favour of less sustainable diets. Developing countries are moving away from traditional diets high in cereal, green vegetables and fiber to more Western style diets that are high in sugars, fat and animal-source food. This is not only bad for human health, but potentially catastrophic for the environment.

A look at livestock alone and its contribution to climate change demonstrates this point. According to the FAO, the sector emits 7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent every year, representing around 14 percent of all human-induced emissions. Planetary boundaries may well be surpassed if current trends continue. Also, it takes ten times more water and twenty times more energy to produce one kilogram of wheat as it does to produce the same weight of beef, and at present three quarters of the world's wheat is grown to feed livestock.

And while certain agricultural practices contribute to climate change, climate change is also likely to have a serious impact on our food security. Climate models indicate that while rising temperatures may have a beneficial effect on crops in temperate areas, tropical areas may experience a significant reduction in their crop productivity in the long term.

Equally serious will be the impact of climate change on the nutritional content of key crops which could put hundreds of millions of people at risk of vitamin deficiencies. Studies show that higher CO2 levels significantly reduce the levels of the essential nutrients iron and zinc, as well as protein, in such staple crops as wheat, rice, maize and soybeans.

While these crops are relatively low in iron and zinc compared to meat, in poorer societies where meat is not consumed as much as in wealthier nations, they remain a major source of the nutrients needed for children to grow and to develop.

And then there is the waste. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year -- approximately 1.3 billion tons -- gets lost or wasted, with fruits and vegetables having the highest wastage rates of any food, says the FAO. This waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries. If we are going to meeting Goal 12 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals - to reduce global food waste in half by 2030 - much more needs to be done.

This World Food Day, we have to acknowledge the multiple problems that exist within our food systems and that nutritional problems are escalating. It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain. Awareness raising on what a healthy diet means is also key.

Through the newly established Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School, we will continue to find solutions to health risks posed by poor stewardship of the planet. In an era of global environmental change, the food-health connection must be made central to any such investigation.

Over the next 18 months, the Economic Council - made up of world leaders from government, international organizations, civil society, business, finance and academia - will bridge knowledge gaps on the links between economic development, natural systems and human health to compel collaboration across disciplines and coordinated action to address the complex challenges of the 21st century. A century where the food and health connection will need to be viewed inseparably, like an order of fish and chips.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year's World Food Day on October 16.

press release

Tororo, Uganda — The Tororo 10 MWp plant, with 16 GWh of renewable energy generated annually, will cater for the energy requirements of 35,838 people and help reduce CO2 emissions by 7,200 tons.

Building Energy, multinational company operating as a Globally Integrated IPP in the Renewable Energy Industry, announces the Inauguration of the Tororo Solar Plant, its first photovoltaic system in Uganda. With a capacity of 10 MWp, this plant is among the largest in Eastern Africa. Building Energy was also responsible for the development of the project, arranging the financing, as well as the construction and commissioning of the plant. The beginning of operations has been celebrated on the occasion of the ribbon cutting ceremony in Tororo, in the presence of Matteo Brambilla, MD Africa and Middle East at Building Energy, and Attilio Pacifici, EU Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Uganda.

The Tororo solar plant will generate around 16 GWh of energy annually, catering to the energy needs of more than 35,838 people. In addition, the plant will foster clean industrial development in the town of Tororo and at the same time save atmospheric emissions of more than 7,200 tonnes of CO2 per year. Community Development initiatives are also underway.

The Solar Park was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff ("GET FiT"), a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by Germany's KfW Development Bank in partnership with Uganda's Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA) and funded by the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, the governments of Norway, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

The EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund has provided funds through the GET FiT Solar Facility in the form of a top-up payment per kWh of delivered electricity over 20 years. This financing fills the gap between the generation costs and the feed-in tariff set by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

The overall $19.6 million construction investment at Tororo was financed by FMO, the Dutch development bank which, as Mandated Lead Arranger, coordinated the provision of a $14.7 million term loan facility. Fifty percent of the funding was syndicated to the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), while the overall equity contribution of the shareholders was $4.9 million.

Contacts:

Building Energy

Maria Grazia Tiballi

+39-02-49527730

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

buildingenergy.it

Washington — The Islamic Development Bank Group has affirmed its continuity in support to Sudan and provision of funding for Sudan development projects.

This came during the meeting of the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan and the accompanying delegation with the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group.

The delegation also met with the Director General of the Arab Fund for Development, who expressed the bank's readiness to intensify efforts to support and strengthen the Sudan economy.

The Finance Minister and the accompanying delegation also reviewed with the British World Bank's Executive Director his country's role in leading efforts to relief debt on Sudan.

By Savious Kwinika

Johannesburg — THE attainment of the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Morocco has received a major boost after SAP, the global software company, organised its first Social Sabbatical in the North African country. The initiative is ongoing until November 4. The SAP Social Sabbatical, a pilot project in 2012 and now a globally recognized CSR initiative, is a portfolio of volunteer programs in which SAP employees make available skills, expertise and know-how in single, short-term missions. Selected employees dedicate a month of their time to supporting and empowering emerging market organizations in the areas of education and entrepreneurship. The Moroccan leg will have 12 high-level SAP employees working with four local organisations - Enactus Morocco, Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (MCISE), Start-Up Morocco and the United States Agency for International Development Career Centre. The organisations promote innovation, social entrepreneurship, economic growth and employability of young Moroccans. Frederic Alran, Managing Director of SAP Afrique Francophone, said the Social Sabbatical supports and complements the 17 SGDs of the UN by ensuring no one was left behind as the modern workforce prepared to interesting and rewarding jobs. He said SAP adopted the idea that training workers in a digital economy was its corporate responsibility. SAP believes large companies have a moral obligation to initiate people into the world economy, whatever their origins, the executive said. "The launch of social sabbaticals in Morocco perfectly complements our broader social development skills and initiatives in Morocco and provides local organizations with global skills and ideas to stimulate local development," said Alran. "In the globally integrated economy as we know it today, SAP needs leaders and talents who understand the global implications of our world that has digitized at a tremendous rate, adopting the idea of diversity and lifelong learning and committed to embody our vision and leadership principles." Meanwhile, of all countries participating in the SAP Skills for Africa,continental initiative for digital skills development, Morocco is the most committed with more than 165 000 young people. More than half of them women have been trained in basic skills in coding for the year 2016 alone.

By John Grobler

Ancient hardwood trees in Namibia’s Caprivi State Forest are being poached by a controversial Chinese businessman who’s exploiting legal loopholes the government won’t close.

For about 12 kilometers west from the Namibian town of Katima Mulilo, along an old smugglers’ track that runs along the Zambian border, hundreds of teak and rosewood trees lie grey and dead. Their felled trunks ooze red resin, much like the blood of the elephants that once inhabited this stretch of state forest - before the poachers came.

And just like with the demand for ivory, it’s a Chinese trend - the current craze for redwood or hongmu furniture as a status symbol - that has ignited a logging rush that’s devastating sub-Saharan Africa’s remaining hardwood forests.

Here in Caprivi State Forest, the trees are being cut down by crews working for Xuecheng Hou, a controversial Chinese businessman with prior criminal convictions, who, along with his associates, has been involved in the illegal wildlife products trade. He is currently facing several criminal charges in Namibia for alleged dealing in wildlife contraband. When the hardwood teak and rosewood trees are cut down, the local Mafwe tribe and the Namibian government will get a few dollars per tree, and the wood will sell for thousands in China.

Meanwhile, rather than stopping the wholesale deforestation of a national forest, the government has left the land in a vague legal limbo that has made it easier for the plunder to continue. The Director of Forestry gave vague and often contradictory answers to reporters, and no one seems committed to stop the clearcutting.

Bloodwood

A loud crack sent a shudder through the Caprivi State Forest, heralding the fall of another giant.

Three days of covert observation by a journalist from Oxpeckers, an OCCRP partner that specializes in investigating environmental crime, established the pattern: Every morning, the Chinese foreman would drop the logging teams off deep in the state forest, several kilometers away from Katima and Liselo Farms, where, according to their contract, they were supposedly clearing an area for the Green Scheme, a crop growing program designed to spur food production.

Carrying water and fuel, the men would fan out, looking for the densest copses of rosewood and teak, where they cut down the oldest and biggest trees before dismembering them to dry the wood quicker. The oldest ones oozed the deepest red resin.

Later, a heavy front-end loader would be brought in to rip open a path for a machine that lifts the logs onto a rickety trailer and moves them to a camp near an electricity sub-station where several hundred trees had already been piled.

The region’s agricultural lands have long been denuded of the slow-growing African rosewood and teak trees. But a number still remain in areas under state control. That’s where the crews have now moved in to harvest them.

Approached by a reporter a few days later at a service station and informed that his teams were harvesting illegally, the crew’s Chinese foreman, Weichao Li, became visibly angry and refused to discuss their work. “Me no talk to you, only to state.”

“You no come here again, you see [what happens],” he said.

It’s back-breaking and dangerous work, six days a week, for good pay: N$100 (about US $7.50) per tree, said one of the saw-men. “My best total for one day of cutting was 60 (trees),” he said.

With six two-man teams at work day after day, it quickly adds up to serious deforestation. Instead of clearing only 1,650 hectares within the two designated farm areas, the crews have felled trees over an area estimated to be four times larger in the adjoining state forest.

Already, an estimated 8000 hectares, or 5.4 percent of the Caprivi State Forest, has been felled, according to an analysis of satellite photos. The forest had been untouched since at least 1968, when the apartheid South African government, which then administered Namibia, ordered the local people out of the area, according to former Caprivi game warden Jo Tagg.

The Caprivi State Forest lies in the Zambezi region, formerly known as the Caprivi Strip, a narrow extension of Namibia that juts like a handle 280 miles to the east. The area remains sparsely populated, rich in wildlife, and is an important migration corridor for animals in the surrounding countries. The region’s rosewood forests are particularly susceptible to destruction because they grow very slowly - only about 3 mm in diameter per year. Many of the trees being cut are over 150 years old.

A Legal Limbo

Like Namibia’s five other state forests, Caprivi was supposed to be protected from this kind of commercial logging. But an investigation by Oxpeckers reveals how the system has failed.

The forest is stuck in a legal limbo that has made the illegal exploitation much easier. Caprivi State Forest was slated to be one of the six national forests, according to the Forest Act of 2001. Article 13 of the act prescribes how state forests of national importance for their biological diversity are to be declared by the Minister of Environment and Tourism. In conjunction with the Ministry of Land Reform, the Minister is supposed to issue a notice in the Government Gazette.

But no such Proclamation or Ministerial Notice appears to have ever been issued since 2001 for the Caprivi State Forest or any of the other state or community-controlled forests. Willem Prinsloo of the Legal Assistance Center (LAC), a legal rights organization in Windhoek that also tracks land use issues, said neither he nor anyone he has spoken to have seen such an announcement.

Also complicating the issue is a claim to some parts of the area by the indigenous Mafwe tribe.

The lack of legal clarity has left a loophole that the Chinese wildcat loggers may now be exploiting, using the Zambezi region’s Green Scheme as a means to bypass forest protection regulations.

As part of the scheme, a bush-clearing contract was awarded to MK Capital Investment and Okatombo Investment, a joint venture of two local Namibian companies. The work was then sub-contracted to another company called Uundenge Investments, who entered a contract with Xuecheng Hou’s New Force Logistics to allow the latter to cut any trees with a diameter beyond 15 cm after they had cleared the bush away.

Except the Chinese largely ignored the fact that they were only to fell trees on the contracted area, which includes the Katima and Liselo farms abutting the Caprivi State Forest. Instead, they started felling trees in the adjacent forest, where they were much more numerous.

The Forest Steward

Reporters talked to Director of Forestry, Joseph Hailwa, who has run the directorate for 15 years. As secretary of the Forestry Council, he is the man responsible for protecting forests and enacting the Forest Act. But since he has been in office, he has never designated Caprivi State Forest -- or any of the other five state forests -- as protected land.

In two separate meetings with a reporter on behalf of OCCRP, at the head office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) in Windhoek, Hailwa gave vague answers, contradicted himself, or made statements that turned out to be untrue.

Pressed to explain why none of the designated forests had never been declared as envisioned by the Act, he angrily said that “Caprivi State Forest was declared by the (apartheid-era) Pretoria government!” However, there is no evidence this is true.

Hailwa’s involvement has been questionable since Feb. 2, when forest wardens from Katima Mulilo on a routine patrol caught the Chinese-run groups cutting within Caprivi State Forest, west of the Liselo farm boundary. They confiscated the loggers’ chainsaws and logged the incident on their internal GIS system.

Although he initially denied it, Hailwa admitted in a second interview that he had ordered the equipment be returned to the Chinese logging group. Hailwa explained that the confiscation was a misunderstanding because his officials had been unaware that the Chinese crew was entitled to harvest trees under the Green Scheme project.

Hailwa could not explain the scope of the Green Scheme, saying he had no maps of the project. He initially said the project encompassed 4,000 hectares, but then in the second interview insisted he had said 2,000 hectares (the actual amount is 1,650 hectares).

He also insisted that no harvesting permits were required because the Chinese crews were operating under the tender to clear land for the Green Scheme. However, the tender itself is questionable because only Liselo Farm had to be cleared, as Katima Farm was already cleared prior to 1990 for a failed scheme to produce bio-fuel.

“The tender is the harvesting permit,” Hailwa insisted.

According to Forestry Regulations promulgated in 2015, no forest products can be harvested without a harvesting license and transport permit. Hailwa confirmed that only one permit had been issued for Katima farm. According to a Directorate of Forestry brochure, a permit is required for any tree cutting or harvesting of wood in an area greater than 15 hectares per year.

“If I have proof that they are cutting outside the area they’re supposed to stick to, then I will order that wood confiscated,” Hailwa said in his first interview with reporters.

Later he said of the loggers, “my staff said they were within the legal area.” But he had also prohibited his staff from speaking to the press, saying any queries could only be answered directly by him.

In the second interview, Hailwa said the directorate had ordered the logging to be halted and investigated. But a week after the interview, on August 11, Xuecheng Hou’s trucks were allowed to leave for the port of Walvis Bay with loaded containers of wood after paying an “admission of guilt fine,” said Martin Dumeni, director of investigations at the customs service, which is investigating the logging.

Hailwa claimed to know nothing of the illegal logging within the Caprivi State Forest, but on July 14, witnesses observed state forestry staff in the Chinese foreman’s vehicle, deep inside the forest, counting felled trees and marking the choice logs as Hou’s.

Hailwa said that forestry staff have been tracking the logging in the state forest because “this wood should not be for mahala [nothing].” But Namibia is not getting a good deal. He admitted the Chinese were paying only N$200 (US$ 15) per tree. A tree yields on average six cubic meters of timber. On the Chinese Alibaba website, such timber sells for between $400 and $2,100 per cubic meter.

At another point, Hailwa argued that the land in question was really under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Land Reform, the Regional Land Board, and the local Mafwe traditional authority.

In an interview with The Namibian on July 10, senior Mafwe advisor Elias Mueze told people to mind their own business. He argued that the traditional authority supported the harvest and had signed an agreement for 1,600 hectares for the Green Scheme project.

The Mafwe traditional authority was receiving some income from the logging which was being used to upgrade their offices, Mueze told The Namibian.

“Therefore, the government has all the right to cut down all those trees or to allow any company that has won the tender to cut down those trees from that area,” he was quoted as saying.

But what isn’t clear is why Hailwa considers the land now being harvested to be outside the park. Pressed to produce a map to show the boundaries of the area to be de-bushed, Hailwa could not do so or point to anyone in his department who had that information. This was the responsibility of the Directorate of Agricultural Production, Extension and Engineering Services, he said.

Hailwa also did not have either the map or coordinates used by the Chinese loggers now, and therefore could not tell whether they were working within the designated area. “Bring me the hard evidence, and I will take the wood from the trees cut outside [the construction area],” he said.

A Google Earth map, marked up with GPS data showing how far the Chinese loggers were working outside of the designated area, was sent to Hailwa’s office after the first interview.

The blurring of both the legal boundaries and official lines of responsibility within the MAWF has facilitated a contract creep from 1,650 hectares to over 8,000 hectares – and likely much more.

The threat to the state forest may be even more dire. Sources in the Directorate of Forestry told reporters that there were plans to dish out various tracts of land amounting to 44,000 hectares to various private and public entities, all within the 146,100-hectare Caprivi State Forest.

Another controversial plan, pushed by rising politician Armas Amukwiyu of the ruling SWAPO party and Chinese interests, will turn 10,000 hectares of the state forest into a tobacco farm over objections from local environmental NGOs and community leaders.
Hailwa acknowledged these projects, but could not provide any published notice of revocation of the forest land status in the Government Gazette, as required by Article 17 of the Forest Act.

The main man in the Chinese led operation, Hou, could not be reached for comment, but in a previous interview, he denied that he was involved in hardwood harvesting and said his company, New Force Logistics, only did the transport.

Hou has a long track record of involvement in criminal cases in Namibia, including being accused of possessing and dealing in illegal ivory, stolen animals skins, and other crimes, but he has yet to face trial on any of these charges.

A member of Hou’s group, Otjiwarongo shop-keeper Wang Hui and three other Chinese citizens, were sentenced to 14 years in jail by the Windhoek Regional Court in September last year for the attempted smuggling of 14 rhino horns in March 2014.

The Illegal Tender

The land-clearing tender which allowed the crews to cut the trees is highly problematic. To understand why, one has to go back to July 2016, when two tenders - one for de-bushing irrigation fields, the other to fence in the area - were issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.

Forty-seven bids, ranging from N$4.8 million ($335,000) to an astronomical N$441.7 million ($30.8 million), were received for the de-bushing contract, and 46 offers ranging from N$6 million ($418,000) to N$43.6 million ($3 million) for the fencing job.

Both tenders were specifically written for black economic empowerment “tenderpreneurs,” a South African term for a person who uses their political connections to secure government contracts. For the de-bushing contract, 51 percent of the company had be Namibian-owned. For the contract to fence the area in, 100 percent had to be Namibian-owned. In both tenders, 30 percent of the shareholders had to be from previously disadvantaged groups, according to the Tender Bulletin, which monitors all public tenders.

The de-bushing tender was awarded to MK Capital and Okatombo Investments by the Tender Board and confirmed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). That joint venture then sub-contracted the job to Uundenge Investments, which is owned by local businessman Laban Kandume.

However, about two months after both tenders closed on July 19, an engineer from the MAWF’s Directorate Agricultural Production Extension and Engineering Services, applied for a tender exemption from the Tender Board for the very same de-bushing tender.

The letter, dated Sept. 21, stresses the project’s national importance as a reason for the tender to be declared exempt from the normal public bidding process -- even though the process had already taken place.

“This project should necessarily be treated as one of the priority projects aligned to the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), contributing to enhanced food security and hunger eradication in Namibia,” the unsigned letter said.

Harambee, a Swahili word related to charity, is the name given by President Hage Geingob to his poverty reduction policies, which call for accelerating certain projects. It is not clear whether this exemption was granted by the Tender Board - its officials referred all queries back to the MAWF.

To add more to the confusion, the letter asked for the de-bushing contract to be accelerated but referenced the separate fencing contract.

Neither MK Capital nor Okatombo Investments had entered any bid for the second tender - erecting a fence around the project area - but they were awarded the N$20 million ($1.4 million) contract anyway, bringing their total contract value to about N$46 million ($3.2 million), as they later confirmed in a meeting at a Windhoek restaurant on Aug. 10.

In this meeting, Kandume explained that he was invited by Matty Kamati, who introduced himself as the owner of MK Capital, and was present in the meeting, to become involved in this project, but insisted they had nothing to do with the wood business and intended to end the contract with Hou although they could offer no proof.

Why the MAWF would request a tender exemption for this de-bushing contract and then award the fencing contract to a company that did not enter a bid is not clear. The author of the letter was in the field and could not be reached for comment, a person answering his office phone said.

Kandume did not respond to phone calls or texts messages to clarify why neither MK Capital or Okatombo Investments nor their joint venture had entered any bid for the fencing contract, but somehow still obtained the job under a questionable tender exemption for the other contract.

This story was reported in collaboration with Oxpeckers. It is part of the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, a partnership between OCCRP and Transparency International. For more information, click here.

[embedded content]

press release

An unprecedented international collaboration of telescopes has lead to the first direct detection of gravitational waves – ripples in space and time – in addition to light from the spectacular collision of two neutron stars. The discovery marks the first time that a cosmic event has been viewed in both gravitational waves and light.

The discovery was made using the U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO); the Europe-based Virgo detector; and some 70 observatories on the ground and in space observing the event at their representative wavelengths. Square Kilometre Array South Africa's new MeerKAT telescope, still under construction, contributed by observing the location of the astronomical collision on three separate days between 26 August and 17 September 2017. The sensitive MeerKAT observations indicate that on those days the source was very faint, no brighter than 60 micro-Janskys at a frequency of 1.3 gigahertz.

The gravitational wave signal, dubbed GW170817, was first detected by two identical detectors of LIGO, located in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, on 17 August 2017. At nearly the same time, the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor on NASA's Fermi space telescope detected a burst of gamma rays. The information provided by the third detector, Virgo, situated near Pisa, Italy, allowed scientists to better triangulate the position of the cosmic event. The rapid gravitational-wave detection by the LIGO–Virgo team, coupled with Fermi's gamma-ray detection, enabled the launch of follow-up observations by telescopes around the world.

The LIGO data indicated that two astrophysical objects located at the relatively close distance of 130 million light-years from Earth had been spiralling towards each other. It appeared that the objects were not as massive as binary black holes – objects that LIGO and Virgo have previously detected (and for which the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2017 was recently awarded). Instead, the inspiralling objects were estimated to be in a range from around 1.1 to 1.6 times the mass of the sun, in the mass range of neutron stars. A neutron star is about 20 kilometres in diameter and is so dense that a teaspoon of neutron star material has a mass of about a billion tons. Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known to exist and are formed when massive stars explode in supernovae. As these neutron stars spiralled towards each other, they emitted gravitational waves that were detectable on Earth for about 100 seconds; when they collided, a flash of light in the form of gamma rays was emitted and seen on Earth about two seconds after the gravitational waves. In the days and weeks following the astronomical smash-up, other forms of light, or electromagnetic radiation – including X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio waves – were detected.

The LIGO–Virgo results are published today in the journal Physical Review Letters. The observations have given astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to probe a collision of two neutron stars. "This detection opens the window of a long-awaited 'multi-messenger' astronomy," says David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory. "It's the first time that we've observed a cataclysmic astrophysical event in both gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves – our cosmic messengers. Gravitational-wave astronomy offers new opportunities to understand the properties of neutron stars in ways that just can't be achieved with electromagnetic astronomy alone."

A separate paper being published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters includes the results obtained by MeerKAT. It summarises the world-wide multi-messenger observations of the binary neutron star merger heralded by GW170817, which is rapidly becoming one of the most widely studied events in the history of astrophysics. This includes crucial visible-light observations by the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) one day after the merger event; and monitoring by an international network of radio observatories that included SARAO's HartRAO.

Dr Fernando Camilo, Chief Scientist at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), says: "The LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave detection and subsequent electromagnetic study of the binary neutron star collision is one of the truly wondrous moments of modern astrophysics. Many of us have dreamt about this event for decades, and it's more wonderful than we could have imagined. It raises as many questions as it begins to answer."

Camilo continues: "Deep understanding in this area will come from continued study of the electromagnetic radiation from the remnant of GW170817, which we expect to evolve over weeks and months; and from the detailed study of more such events to follow in the years to come."

"Currently, the radio waves from this source are too faint for the partially built MeerKAT to detect," adds Camilo, "but our sensitivity at the radio frequency we use is already among the best in the world, and our scientists and engineers in South Africa are working hard on making it even better."

In conclusion, Camilo notes that "the initial observations we're making of GW170817 indicate that we're already contributing meaningfully in this area – in other words, even as we're still building it, MeerKAT has started to do science".

*Adapted from an original press release written by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office

The large international start-ups like Jumia and Uber may attract the lion's share of the investment but they're not having it all their own way. Craft Silicon launched Kenyan start-up Little to compete with Uber. Russell Southwood talked to Kamal Budhabatti about his ambitions for Little and how it fits into the payment system ecosystem he is building with Craft Silicon.

Kamal Budhabatti launched Little because he thought he could do it better than Uber:"We saw there was an opportunity with the things that were happening on Uber. But the drivers didn't always like what Uber was doing so we wanted to build a product that was appreciated by drivers. It would be an Uber for Africa. We ran a small pilot and it worked out well so we launched 8 months back".

Little takes 15% from its drivers that is probably less than Uber is charging them:"Drivers can withdraw money from their Little wallet at any time. They go to the app and move money to their mobile money account."

According to Tech Loy, it has also said in February 2017 that it will launch a mobile phone-based Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (Sacco). Known as Little Sacco, it would be the first virtual Sacco in Kenya, and on the continent, when launched, and will cover Little's 5,000 drivers.

The Little app works in a very similar way to Uber's but has several significant differences. It can be used on pretty much all phones as it's not just a smartphone app but also can work with USSD by dialing a short code. The call to the short code generates a menu and the call uses adjacent cell towers to triangulate where the rider is. It also has a wallet that comes with the app and this means a rider can pay for a ride and send it to someone else. The rider can also use the app on Facebook Messenger and Little has got an IoT device that you can stick on a fridge and just press a button to get a cab.

Using this combination of smart, feature and basic phone users, it has got to the number two position behind Uber in Kenya. In doing so, it has attracted close to quarter of a million riders. There are two other ride apps in the market: Mondo Ride from the Middle East and Taxify from Estonia. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has invested in Taxify Kenya's parent company through a ride company he partly owns called Didi Chuxing.

Little's parent company Craft Silicon is probably the second biggest payments processor in Kenya after Safaricom's M-Pesa. Last year it handled US$4.4 billion in payments. It does between 1-1.5 million transactions a day and has 9-10 million active customers.

So how does Little as a start-up fit into this kind of payment processor play?:"We wanted to start building verticals. So we launched Little for rides. We've invested (US$0.5 million) in Eat Out Kenya for hospitality and we'll be launching something in the healthcare space." It also wants to roll out the Little as a fintech product as "a small bank that sits inside the wallet."

Thus far Craft Silicon has self-funded these verticals but it is out in the market looking for US$100 million series B funding to expand Little across the continent. It's already started in Nigeria where it's carrying out tests and will do the same in Ghana before too long. It's also looking at a couple of countries in both Southern Africa and Francophone Africa so that it will then have an 8-10 country presence by mid next year.

As Budhabatti told me, the biggest challenge has been going from a B2B business with Craft Silicon to B2C with the new start-ups:"These are market businesses, transacting directly with customers. So we've had to learn from the experience. You need enough money to promote the product in the right way."

By Maria Macharia

Nairobi — AN expert is encouraged at the uptake of digital innovation in Kenya, among other East African countries. Gilbert Saggia, the Managing Director: East Africa at SAP Africa, pointed out Kenya has made a significant progress in areas like cloud adoption, which were beneficial to the economy. "Kenya, and East Africa in general, is enjoying the positive impact of digital innovation," Saggia said. He said for example, companies like Kenya Electricity Transmission Company had automated their business processes by moving entire infrastructure transmission projects from manual to SAP HANA.

"This is a positive stance to demonstrate that the country need to run smarter and efficient," Saggia said. On the other hand, Commercial Bank of Africa's investment in its workforce is yielding high returns. It started with the integrated SAP SuccessFactors platform, which allows CBA to plan, reward and retain its human capital, track performance against targets and engage in continuous learning and development.

Roopa Karemungikar, Managing Director of Altura, an SAP partner, said the ability to align all business processes across different countries would help CBA reduce paperwork, increase productivity and automate the bank transfer of salaries. With the internet of things (IoT) disrupting the African market, industry analysts, Frost & Sullivan forecasted significant growth within Kenya's ICT market in 2017.

This would be fuelled by connectivity and convergence. Services at the Mombasa port are improving and much faster following Kenya Ports Authority's switch to a new operational system. This has placed the port at 70 percent in the journey towards becoming a paperless port. The African Digitalisation Maturity Report indicates that Kenya has an extensive ICT infrastructure including mobile internet access. The country is more diverse and services centric which helps drives the expansion of digital services. - CAJ News

Photo: Facebook

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the Co-creation Hub in Nigeria (file photo).

By Stellar Murumba

Zuckerberg-backed start-up, Andela, has raised Sh4.1 billion to boost IT talent in three African countries including Kenya through South Africa-based CRE Ventures.

The amount brings the Africa-based start-up's funding to over Sh8.1 billion with previous support from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, co-founded by Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's wife Priscilla Chan.

Andela is a network of technology leaders dedicated to building high-performing engineering teams and companies by investing in Africa's most talented software developers.

The start-up's Nairobi office Andela Kenya said it has supported 300 local engineers since it started work in the last two years. "In the two years since we launched Andela Kenya we've already become home to 300 brilliant engineers who are redefining the meaning of leadership on the continent and building a reputation for technological excellence," said Country Director, Joshua Mwaniki.

Other financers namely DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures, Africa-focused TLcom Capital and existing investors; GV, and Spark Capital have participated in the investment.

The founding partner of CRE Venture Capital, Pule Taukobong said Andela was initiated to meet the global technical talent shortage and has currently hired 0.7 per cent of more than 70,000 applicants from the region. It currently has other offices in Nigeria and Uganda, with plans to open two more offices in the region over the next year - doubling its developer base from 500 to 1,000.

A SWEDISH based company 'VR Holding AB' has announced to relocate the 5.5trl/- wind power plant from Malindi, Kenya to Tanzania saying it will be easier for the implementation of the project.

Last year, VR Holding AB had last expressed interest in building a 600-megawatt (MW) wind farm in the Indian Ocean waters bordering Ras Ngomeni in Malindi.

However, according to the Kenyan media, the authorities turned down on the basis of lack of a framework for renewable energy projects of that scale.

One of the firm's top official, Victoria Rikede said they have now switched their focus to Tanzania, which shares the Indian Ocean coastline.

"We have opted to look at offshore solutions for Tanzania," said the executive officer.

By Alfred Zacharia

Dar es Salaam — Nine individuals and a Tanzanian not-for-profit social enterprise have been awarded Sh724 million as grants to implement the data-focused health solutions through the second Data for Local Impact (DLi) challenge.

The winners will use the funds to develop the proposed solution over a period 3-6 months to tackle challenges facing adolescent girls and young women in the country.

Apart from receiving financial assistance, the winners will be paired with a mentor who will help them develop their innovative ideas into a final product, according to the director general for the Commission of Science and Technology (Costech), Dr Dugushilu Mafunda.

Speaking during the awards ceremony yesterday, Dr Mafunda said the project aims at finding relevant data on challenges facing young women to help the policy and decision makers come up with consistent legal solutions.

"In this digital age, we really need relevant data to look for possible solutions to the challenges facing us. That is in this case, Costech has decided to come up with DLi challenge to get innovative individuals and companies to address a such need," he said.

He added that, in attaining their goal, Costech has joined hands with the US Government's President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Perfar) and Millennium Challenge Cooperation.

According to one of the grantees, Ms Leyla Liana, the competition was tough but well organised and beneficial to the participants and the community at large.

"I have realized through the challenge that there are hundreds of innovative people in the country who can address the challenges we face in our daily life, if they are given an opportunity to do so," she said.

Ms Liana also added that, she is thankful that her thoughts have now turned to reality and can be used to solve the problems of her people.

She said having an innovative ideas is not enough if there is no place to implement them, and help the society.

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