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Feb 07, 2015

Thousands of small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya are set to benefit from part of a Sh2.3 billion financial support that seeks to improve their livelihood though enhanced productivity. This follows the signing of a deal between Family Group Foundation and Heifer International Kenya to improve dairy farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in a five year programme.

Dubbed East Africa Dairy Development Project (EADD), the project in its second phase is partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and targets about 136,000 farmers in the three countries. Family Group Foundation is supported by Family Bank Limited, Kenya Orient Insurance Limited and Nyara Farm.

During the inking of the deal, Family Group Foundation Executive Director Annie Muya underscored the role of the foundation in achieving improved development through partnerships. “This partnership lays credence to what the Foundation hopes to achieve, which is to improve and transform lives through developmental programmes,” she said.

She further promised of their commitment to work with Heifer International and EADD II partners, to contribute to the realisation of development objectives under the EADD programme in Kenya.

On their part, EADDP said that they will further refine and improve the hub approach, partly through focusing more on building social capital, and partly through actively pursuing partnerships. “We will seek partnerships with investment from local processors, the financial sector and other private sector players will explore ways to increase hub sustainability, thereby readying this approach for scale by other public and private entities,” Kapoor noted.

The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) program is designed to boost the milk yields and incomes of small-scale farmers in the region to lift their communities out of hunger and poverty. The second phase of EADD aims at improving dairy production and access to markets over the next four years. Besides, it seeks to provide additional opportunities to create financial independence and social equality in addition to changing the nutritional landscape in East Africa.

Source: Standard Media Kenya

Feb 07, 2015

African countries are likely to double their earnings in tourism to Sh3.5 trillion in the 15 years and the Africa Development Bank ( AfDB) predicts the tourism industry will be a mine gold for the continent. This is as governments and other value players embark on high hotel mega projects in addition to product diversification.

The bank's acting Chief Economist and Vice President Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, in a statement said international tourist arrivals will by 2030 increase to over 130 million from the current figures of 65 million. In recent years, African tourism has demonstrated rebirth following emergence of new set of tourists arriving in the continent including young people from the developed countries and citizens of emerging economies.

"This is because with the economic liberalisation of the African economies, that removed constraints on foreign currencies, and encouraged an increase in air transport, it is relatively easy to travel to and within the continent,"  said Mugerwa.

"Tourist entrepreneurs are now kin to provide packages to the discerning traveler, incorporating leisure and cultural exposure. Policymakers are also beginning to address issues related to visas, in order to reduce bureaucratic hindrances. For example, in East Africa, a single visa allows you to travel within five countries."

He observed that the upward scenario will be driven by State's enthusiasm to improve infrastructure as well as diversify tourism products. "It is therefore clear that tourism will be an important driver of growth and livelihoods in Africa in years to come. Hotel construction could boost the domestic real estate sector, providing employment to thousands of young people," noted Mr Mugerwa. Statistics published in the "Africa Tourism Monitor" indicate that the continent received 65 million tourists.


Source: Standard Media Kenya

Feb 07, 2015

A Chinese-built supercomputer, with processing capacity of 36 trillion calculations per second, was commissioned Friday in Zimbabwe, one of a very few African countries to equip with a supercomputer.

The facility, housed in University of Zimbabwe, was provided by China's leading personal computer and server manufacturer Inspur Group with a 5.5 million U.S. dollars interest-free loan committed by the Chinese government. The supercomputer is expected to be used in agriculture, weather forecast, mining, gene technology, and stimulation, enabling Zimbabwe's scientific research to make a great leap forward for the next five to ten years, said Huang Gang, deputy president of Inspur Group.

Huang said while the United States owns the world's leading supercomputer technology, it is China that brings such technology to the world of developing countries with affordable cost. Till now, Inspur has helped Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Cuba own and operate high performance computing centers.

He said, armed with the supercomputer, scientists in Zimbabwe can now process big data, for example, in weather forecasting to predict weather changes with unprecedented precision. The same technology can also help miners pinpoint sites that hold oil and other key mineral resources.

"If used properly and extensively, the supercomputer can bring fundamental changes to Zimbabwe enabling sophisticated researches to be conducted and becoming a hub for training cloud computing experts in Africa," Huang said. "Its contribution to national development can't be rivaled by the building of government offices and roads, the mainstream Chinese-aid projects. "

Supercomputer is a rarity not just in Africa, but across the developing world. Over a year since the agreement was signed, dozens of Zimbabwean researchers received trainings both in Zimbabwe and China to be able to operate the system.

A committee on high performance computing was set up, pooling together experts from learning and research institutes across the country and from different industries. Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lin Lin said the commission of the high performance computing center, enabling Zimbabwe to become the fourth country in Africa to own such a facility, is an important part of China-Zimbabwe cooperation that "both sides should be proud of."

Zimbabwe's Minister of High Education Oppah Muchinguri said as a country, Zimbabwe has high expectations on the nation's future in the area of computation science and engineering, which will provide new and emerging technology that is fundamental for social and economic transformation.


Source: Xinhua

Feb 07, 2015

President Francois Hollande on Friday told African leaders and businessmen that France was ready to pump more money into Africa's projects.

At the Africa-France summit held in Paris, Hollande pledged "to adapt a fair number of tools to promote and facilitate the financing of French companies in Africa, or the financing of projects which could interest Africans." 

"We need to better support Africa to finance its projects. Africa is full of unexploited wealth and France is ready to bring many countries to invest there," the French leader said. Hollande added France would devote 240 million euros (271.67 million US dollars) to finance schemes aimed at improving developments in African countries.

The eurozone's second largest power also wants to create, by next month, a bank for exports, eyeing important international deals in all sectors and luring investors from the African continent. As Paris is preparing the climate change conference by year-end and during which it hopes to reach a binding global accord, Hollande recalled his pledge to offer one billion euros to help ameliorate new technologies and energy transition.

Besides, the Socialist leader confirmed that French Development Agency would raise 20 billion euros for Africa between 2014 and 2020, of which about 4 billion had been financed last year.

"Africa is our future, because the continent is the fastest growing one, that's the most important potential," Hollande said.

About 700 participants from 33 countries took part in this year's Africa-France summit with the focus on how to further boost cooperation in a way to share expanding growth.

"Africa is full of promises and France is full of projects, that is why we are together," Hollande said.


Source:Xinhua Published

Feb 07, 2015

Morocco have been banned from the next two African Nations Cups and fined $1m (£656,000) for pulling out of hosting this year’s competition, the Confederation of African Football has announced.

Caf also ordered the Moroccan Football Federation to pay compensation of €8m (£5.9m) for losses sustained by CAF, its stakeholders and partners as a result of its decision not to host the tournament.

Morocco pulled out of hosting the tournament due to the Ebola epidemic, with Equatorial Guinea stepping in at short notice to stage it. Morocco in October requested to postpone the tournament by a year before failing to respond to a Caf deadline in November to confirm whether they would go ahead with hosting.

After a meeting of the Caf executive committee in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea’s capital, on Friday, the federation said in a statement: “Morocco had based its request to postpone the tournament by a year on 10 October 2014, on allegations ’of the highest health risk’. Morocco cited the outbreak of the Ebola virus as a case of force majeure in justifying its request for postponement, citing in particular the risk of contamination of its population because of anticipated fans’ flows.

“Caf raised objections and inadmissibility of Morocco’s request who were obliged to state their position of withdrawal from the organisation of the 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations by 11 November 2014. “The executive committee considered that, contrary to what the Royal Moroccan Football Federation cited, force majeure cannot be accepted for the benefit of the federation.”

Caf also confirmed the punishments, which mean Morocco will be banned from the 2017 and 2019 editions of the African Nations Cup. They won the competition in 1976 and were beaten finalists in 2004, but have since failed to progress beyond the first round.


Source: The Guardian (UK)

Feb 06, 2015

The creation of business opportunities for unemployed youth in the agricultural sector is at the center stage of an African wide initiative led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

In his address at the opening session of a three-day business training for young entrepreneurs in agriculture, the Representative of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Lekan Quadri, Regional Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), developed his keynote on the links between youth unemployment and the opportunities of an agrarian economy, which would provide "the biggest potential for mass job creation".

More than 60 youth participants from six countries across Africa are attending the business training "Empowering Agripreneurs on Agripreneural and Business Management" taking place 3-6 February at the headquarters of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

The Representative of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development further acknowledged "the immense contribution of the Director General of IITA for the youth-in-agriculture initiative that started under his leadership". 

Dr Nteranya Sanginga, the Director General of IITA, had started the IITA Youth Agripreneurs—a landmark program that provides youth from diverse disciplines training and opportunities to engage in agricultural business or entrepreneurship. During the opening program, he invited participants to proactively seek synergies for answering needs in the development of youth and agriculture. "The African Development Bank has declared a big interest in partnership engagement for youth and agriculture, the reason why I call upon you for your ideas and support", he said. He emphasized that he does not see a development in Africa without unemployed youth engaging in agriculture.

Sanginga further explained that inclusive growth of the continent could be achieved through the joint implementation of mechanisms in agribusiness which would work for both farmers and consumers. "A young 'agripreneur' coming from a communication background is working with fish now. First, you might think communication and fish?where is the link?... but when you start understanding how sales figures of fish products can increase throughout value chains by involving young people coming from different sectors, such as communication or marketing, it might become an eye-opener for you in engaging in new partnership opportunities."

Guests at the opening included representatives from the private sector, including Ekimiks Nigeria Limited, Durante Fish Industry, and Skretting Nutreco Company, the University of Ibadan, and FMARD.

Chief Moji Ladipo, a former registrar of the University of Ibadan, spoke on the importance of being prepared for opportunities. Chief Ladipo encouraged the participants to be passionate about what they do.

Mr Ekiyor Tope Miriki, the Chief Executive Officer of Ekimiks Nigeria Limited and sponsor of the workshop, said that the program was designed to not only create opportunities but to also help young people exit the unemployment cycle. With the business survival rate being less than 50%, a business in agriculture is even more demanding due to the economics involved in the process, he stated.

To respond to these challenges, the IITA-established Youth Agripreneurs scheme is piloting an approach that consists of young women and men focusing on promoting agriculture among other young people through training and demonstration on agricultural best practices and the value chain in Nigeria. The scheme also supports initiatives in Tanzania, DR Congo, Zambia, Kenya, and Mozambique.


Source: Ghana Web

Feb 06, 2015

Access Infra Africa is a new investment entity for developing clean, renewable energy in Africa. Below is an interview with Reda El Chaar, Chairman of Access Power MEA.

1. Press about your work refers to an investment “vehicle,” could you break down exactly what this vehicle is and how it works?

EREN and Access jointly launched Access Infra Africa, which is the largest fully privately funded investment vehicle looking to invest in early stage renewable energy projects in Africa. The partners intend to implement an ambitious development plan leading to the realization of a portfolio of power assets in Africa worth over US$500 million. We plan to grow the vehicle to such size in the next three years.

2. Who are or will be your main investors?

Access and EREN are joint investors in Access Infra Africa.

3. What kind of return do you anticipate on the development of solar power projects in Africa?

Our returns differ from project to project, depending on a variety of factors. As such, we do not have a defined return for projects.

4. Will you develop any other renewable energy projects in Africa, such as geothermal or wind power?

Yes, AIA will look at a range of projects including wind, solar and hydro projects. In addition, we will also look at potential hybrid projects (a combination of conventional and non-conventional).

5. How many jobs are created locally when you construct a solar power plant, typically?

Depending on the size of the project, could be from a few hundred to thousand plus.

6. What size solar power plants will you typically work with?

The average size of solar power projects will be 10–50 MW (megawatts).

7.  Do you expect energy storage solutions to be paired with new solar power plants now or in the future?

Maybe in the future.

8. How do you choose sites for potential new solar power plants?

We evaluate opportunities on a case-by-case basis. The unifying factor is strong demand for energy production in a given location and conditions that are suitable for energy production.

9. How do you work with local authorities to stay in compliance with local laws when you develop a new solar project?

Access Power works closely with governments on a local level to ensure we adhere to the required regulations and standards. This includes a constant dialogue with authorities while tendering for projects. Some recent examples of that include our activity in Uganda and Egypt.

10. What does your road map for solar power development in Africa look like for the next 3–5 years?

Africa’s energy sector and wider economy could be transformed by the billions of dollars of project financing available for later-stage developments. Solar power has the potential to become one of the main sources of energy in Africa, but what is lacking is a pipeline of high-quality projects. In partnership with EREN, we are planning to develop a range of high quality concepts into bankable projects, thereby playing a leading role in bringing energy safety to the millions of people in Africa.


Author’s note: renewables are a long-term energy source because solar power systems can provide clean energy for 25  years. Over two decades of reliable energy is a good basis for economic growth. Installing renewables locally means less fossil fuel is needed, which is typically imported at an unfavorable cost.


Source: Originally published on Solar Love

Feb 05, 2015

A $34 device that plugs into the audio jack of a smartphone was nearly as effective as far more costly diagnostic blood testing equipment in identifying antibodies for HIV and syphilis in a pilot study in Africa, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The mobile lab device, known as a dongle, cost $34 to make, compared with more than $18,000 for the gold standard diagnostic equipment. In a pilot study, the device performed all of the mechanical, optical and electronic functions of a lab-based blood test in 15 minutes, using only power drawn from the smartphone.

 It was developed by a team lead by Samuel Sia, an associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University in New York.

To test its effectiveness, health care workers in Rwanda used the tool to do finger-prick blood tests on 96 patients, including women who were at risk of passing sexually transmitted diseases to their unborn children.

The team compared the results with standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA testing, and found the results were nearly as accurate. The test has a sensitivity of 92 to 100 percent, a measurement of how often the tests accurately identified the target antibodies, and it had a specificity of 79 to 100 percent, an indicator of how well the test did at ruling out people who were not infected.

"Our work shows that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory," Sia said in a statement.

The researchers estimate that with syphilis, a test with only 70 to 80 percent sensitivity and specificity that was performed at the point of care could reduce deaths tenfold compared with a perfectly accurate lab-based test, because the non-lab test would be more likely to increase syphilis diagnosis.

The study was backed by a grant from the Gates Foundation and several other funders and published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine. 

The researchers are planning a larger-scale clinical trial with the goal of winning approval by the World Health Organization for use in developing countries.


Source:  Reuters

Feb 05, 2015

Africa’s first grid-connected biogas plant will begin supplying power by March 1, according to Johnnie McMillan, managing director of Tropical Power Kenya Ltd.

The $6.5 million Gorge Farm Energy Park anaerobic digester in Kenya will consume an annual 50,000 tons of organic waste sourced from a neighboring 800-hectare (1,977-acre) farm owned by VegPro Group, one of Tropical’s investment partners.

“We expect to achieve a 5 1/2-year payback and that’s made possible by the aggregate tariff of what we sell to the grid, the locals around here and VegPro, which is East Africa’s biggest exporter of fresh vegetables to the U.K.,” McMillan said in an interview on Tuesday in Naivasha, 77 kilometers (48 miles) north of Nairobi.

The 2.8-megawatt park took a year to build and the power it will put into the national grid will cost $0.10 per kilowatt hour compared with $0.38 per KWh for diesel-generated power, McMillan said. In addition, the plant will also house a 10- megawatt grid-connected solar PV Plant.

Tropical plans to build renewable power assets across Africa producing more than 130 megawatts by 2018, according to a statement. The company is planning a plant in Ghana replicating the original model in Kenya, near Lake Volta, where VegPro has a 1,000 hectare farm, McMillan said.


Source: Bloomberg

Feb 05, 2015

 MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI), a leading global money transfer company, announces today that its agent network in Africa has now reached 25,000 locations, following a strategic expansion initiative across the continent. Recent technology advances and new agent and sub-agent signings, including an agreement with the Mauritius Post Office to offer money transfer services at more than 100 locations, have contributed to achieving this company milestone.

"MoneyGram continues to grow throughout Africa as a result of forming strategic relationships with reputable companies, including banks, post offices and retailers, to bring added convenience and more choices for our customers," says Herve Chomel, MoneyGram's vice president of Africa. "Remittances are an important part of economic development and financial inclusion throughout the region and are integral to providing household essentials, education and healthcare in many countries. We are excited to be a part of the region's growth."

Consumers have access to MoneyGram's services in more than 50 African countries. In a series of recent successes, the company signed an agreement with First Bank of Nigeria's subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia, and also renewed a master agreement with Standard Bank Group, one of Africa's top banks. MoneyGram's services are available at over 500 Standard Bank locations in South Africa and across 11 Southern and Eastern African countries.

MoneyGram is also implementing innovative self-service channels to make it more convenient for consumers living in Africa or abroad to obtain needed funds. The company recently announced an agreement with Safaricom that enables consumers in over 90 countries outside Kenya to send funds directly to nearly 20 million customers of M-PESA, Kenya's leading mobile wallet provider.

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