The African Union Development Agency, formerly New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), says it is proud of the milestone achieved by National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA).
Mr Samuel Timpo, the Principal Programme Officer for African Bio-safety Network of Expertise (ABNE) of (AUDA-NEPAD), said this at a 3-day Training on Bio-safety Communication organised by the NBMA in collaboration with AUDA–NEPAD.
The training is for communication officers of line Ministries, Departments, Agencies and journalists, who are stakeholders in bio-safety issues.
“As a NEPAD agency, we are proud of the milestones Nigeria has achieved, indeed, in the international community, when you want Africa to speak up, Nigeria has been one of our backbones in delivering messages.
“We rely heavily on Nigeria as a backbone to lead bio-safety matters and chart the course as seen during the last COP-MOP, which was held in Egypt.
“So, we are also excited today about how to interact with sister agencies, so that we can address the issues of regulation.
He said that NEPAD had worked with the agency for almost a decade in the area of capacity building.
“We had journey with NBMA, It’s been almost a decade of building regulatory capacity and we hope to continue relying on Nigeria for leadership and clarity of what we want to achieve as a continent.
“This training workshop has two unique features, one is that we hope that each one of us will see him or herself as a trainer, so that beyond here you spread the message,
“The other part of it is a word borrowed from the bible “Iron sharpneth Iron” we are here to learn from our various experiences and come out better equipped to deal with the challenges of communicating bio-safety’’.
Timpo, however, assured the agency of NEPAD’s continuous partnership, which he hoped would become stronger and stronger.
Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General of NBMA, while declaring open the training said that communication was key in bio-safety management.
“In bio-safety management, issues of communication are very important because when you talk about bio-safety, you are looking at it from the point of risk assessment, risk management and risk complications.
“ Communication is very much key because the information you give out to members of the public and stakeholders will determine the information they will go away with and this will also determine their perception of what to do.
“The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and their regulations have always been very contentious and communication is key to enable the public understand the system, and also douse their fears, especially the ones that are unfounded’’.
Ebegba said that the NEPA came to assist the agency to ensure that Nigeria’s bio-safety system was ready in the area of communication.
“Information should not just be for media houses to sell or make news available, some of these amount to serious misinformation.
“We have in our midst today communicators from various ministries and agencies and it is important that you know how to address members of the public.
“And also to know how to address those who have questions to ask and those who do not really believe in the technology.
“I want to also assure you that the agency will not shy away from its responsibility to tell the members of the public when we are convinced that the technology is safe, particularly after due diligence on the areas of risk assessment and risk management.
Edited by Ifeyinwa Omowole
Africa’s COVID-19 cases now over 115,000 – WHO
“There are over 115,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 46,000 recoveries and 3,400 deaths,” it said.
The figures showed that South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria had the highest reported cases in Africa.
According to the report, South Africa had 23,615 cases and 418 deaths followed by Algeria with 8,503 cases and 609 deaths, while Nigeria had 8,068 confirmed cases and 233 deaths.
It stated that Ghana had 6,808 reported cases and 32 deaths, while Cameroon recorded 4, 890 confirmed cases and 165 deaths.
The report said Lesotho, Seychelles and Namibia were countries currently with the lowest confirmed cases in the region.
It said Lesotho had only two confirmed cases with zero death; Seychelles had 11 reported cases and zero death, while Namibia recorded 21 confirmed cases with no death.
Meanwhile, as at May 25, the novel coronavirus had infected more than 5.4 million people and killed over 344,000 worldwide, according to John Hopkins University.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
WHO pays tribute to African leaders on fight against COVID-19
The regional director also commended Africans for their patience and support in the fight against the pandemic.
“So again, a shout out to African people, I thank them so much for the courage that they have shown, the forbearance under sometimes difficult circumstances.
“We are committed to continue in this fight with them.
“We have seen African countries take very tough decisions to put in place some of the control measures
“I am very pleased to have joined this celebration of Africa Day yesterday, and especially pleased to have been in the company of special envoys on COVID-19 in Africa,” she said.
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity on May 25, 1963.
The Day is an opportunity to celebrate Africa’s vitality and diversity, and to promote African unity and it is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.
At a news conference to mark the Day in Geneva, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said the Africa Day 2020 was set aside to mark the successes and progress made throughout the African continent.
“So far, although around half of the countries in the region have community transmission, concentrated mainly in major cities, Africa is the least-affected region globally in terms of the number of cases and deaths reported to WHO.
“Of course, these numbers don’t paint the full picture. Testing capacity in Africa is still being ramped up and there is a likelihood that some cases may be missed.
“But even so, Africa appears to have so far been spared the scale of outbreaks we have seen in other regions,” Ghebreyesus said.
He said the early set-up of a leader’s coalition led by the African Union, under the chairmanship of President Ramaphosa of South Africa was key to rapidly accelerating preparedness efforts and issuing comprehensive control measures.
“Countries across Africa have garnered a great deal of experience from tackling infectious diseases like polio, measles, Ebola, yellow fever, influenza and many more.
“Africa’s knowledge and experience of suppressing infectious diseases has been critical to rapidly scaling up an agile response to COVID-19.
“And beyond that they worked together with Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and WHO to extend training for laboratory technicians for detection of COVID-19 and to build up the national capacity across the region,” he said.
“For many years and from the outset of this pandemic, WHO has been working through our country offices to support nations in health emergency preparedness and developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent, detect and respond to the virus.
“With WHO support, many African countries have made good progress in preparedness.
“All countries in Africa now have a preparedness and response plan in place, compared with less than a dozen in the first few weeks of the pandemic.
“48 countries in the region have a community engagement plan in place, compared with only 25 countries 10 weeks ago.
According to him, as of last week, millions of personal protective equipment and lab tests had been shipped to 52 African countries.
“In the coming weeks we plan further shipments of PPE, oxygen concentrators and lab tests.
“However, we still see gaps and vulnerabilities. Only 19 per cent of countries in the region have an infection prevention and control programme and standards for water, sanitation and hygiene in health facilities.
Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Salif Atojoko (NAN)
Africa Liberation Day: Ex NACCIMA D-G calls for stronger bond between Nigeria, ECOWAS
Dr John Isemede on Tuesday called for a stronger bond between Nigeria and the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) to break barriers hindering trade on in the continent.
He spoke against the backdrop of the Africa Liberation Day celebrated every May 25.
According to him, for the smooth operations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, Nigeria need to understand the market terrain, and difference in trade terms across the continent.
He noted that ECOWAS had recorded successes that should be a model for the country to build upon, to proffer clear guide and understanding of the AfCFTA agreement.
NAN reports that the aim of AfCFTA, signed in Kigali, Rwanda,on March 21, 2018, was to create a single market for goods and services as well as promote intra-African trade.
“How prepared is Nigeria for the AfCFTA, do we really understand what the agreemen entails.
“For effective running of AfCFTA, there is the need to know more about ECOWAS and its activities, so that we can move smoothly from the known to the unknown market or terrain, note the different and diverse trade terms across the continent.
“Then have a plan on how to join with others on a single bloc of 1.3m consumers.
“We need to understand and map out ways to make it successful, get everyone prepared.
“Also, we should be considering the ECOWAS integration and the breaking down of the trade barriers.
“We have to ratify and identify our market, know the team in place, logistics in terms of sea port, airport, silos, standard, language experts and all of that,” he said.
Isemede faulted the research carried out on the AfCFTA as he stated: “Is Nigeria prepared?
“The research carried out was within Nigeria and you do not carry out research with the aim to sell outside.
He, however, highlighted 30 areas whereby ECOWAS had recorded successes that should serve as a yardstick.
“We are still together after 57 years, unlike the European Union.
“Even Mauritania that was out is coming back, we have a clear aim and objective of the bloc, ability to manage the diversity (Francophone/Anglophone divide) with the LUEOA that is almost parallel.
“ECOWAS traders are working to upscale the informal sector to legitimate transactions.
“Trade has reduced political and other tensions, helping to redistribute goods in the Sub- region, free movement of goods and services.
Standardisation bus and operations of the scheme, no visa requirements, international vehicle licence, international vehicle insurance, and international motor permit, among others,” he said.
Isemede said that the border closure against some of Nigeria’s neighbouring countries was not as a result of tension, but because Nigeria could not compete in terms of food production.
He said that if we produced enough, after catering for domestic consumption, Nigeria would still have enough to export.
“In the 1900’s Nigeria was producing more than 50 per cent of palm oil requirement and in 1960, we were producing 25 per cent requirement.
“Were people smuggling palm oil at that time? No. Now, we are just producing one per cent.
“Since we are talking about continental trade, there must be backward integration, let us produce more and then we will be able to compete with other states on the continent,” Isemede said.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Ese E. Ekama (NAN)
South Africa’s rand climbs to 8 week high against dollar
South Africa’s rand raced to its highest in more than eight weeks against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday, as optimism about a global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic boosted riskier assets, with investors looking past Sino-U.S. trade tensions.
At 0605 GMT, the rand traded at 17.4700 per dollar, 0.91 per cent firmer than its previous close.
The currency was at its strongest since March 27.
“The optimistic recovery narrative is holding within markets, keeping the dollar subdued and seeing the rand remain on a stable footing following last week’s rally,” Bianca Botes, executive director at Peregrine Treasury Solutions, said in a note.
“While there are looming geopolitical risks, it seems as though markets are currently pushing them onto the back burner, and will likely continue to do so until there is a new escalation or increased threat.”
Japan’s decision to end coronavirus-induced restrictions and a survey showing German business morale rebounded in May, lifted hopes of an economic recovery and helped offset a war of words between Beijing and Washington on trade, coronavirus and China’s proposals for stricter security laws in Hong Kong.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday a further easing of the country’s lockdown from June 1, allowing the vast majority of the economy to return to full capacity.
The government was due to give more details on Tuesday.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
S. Africa registers record-high daily toll from COVID-19
South Africa on Monday recorded 52 more deaths from COVID-19, the highest daily increase since the outbreak in early March, raising the national death toll to 481.
The country also reported 1,032 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, brining the total cases to 23,615, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update.
The total number of recoveries nationwide stood at 11,917 as of Monday, Mkhize said, adding that a total of 596,777 tests have been conducted, with 12,992 tests done in the last past 24-hour testing cycle.
The Western Cape province remains the epicenter of the pandemic with 15,396 cases, followed by Gauteng with 2,993 cases, the Eastern Cape with 2,748 cases and KwaZulu-Natal with 1,882 cases.
Despite the rapid spread of the pandemic, the country is preparing to ease the lockdown from level four to level three, starting from June 1.
Level three will allow 8 million people to return to work with the opening up of the economy and the removal of a number of restrictions on the movement of people.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the decision to further ease the lockdown was based on wide consultations with various stakeholders across the country and guided by advice from the World Health Organization and the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nigerian president says peace a prerequisite for Africa’s development
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said peace, along with security, unity, and harmony, is a prerequisite for sustainable development in Africa.
In a message to African leaders to mark the “Africa Day 2020” launched by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), Buhari said Africa has given the world new hope by choosing the theme “Silencing the Guns in the Context of the COVID-19” for this year’s celebration.
For African leaders to ensure that every effort is made to guarantee the success of silencing the guns on the continent, the Nigerian president said, there was the need to emphasize sensitizing Africans to the inseparable connection between peace and development.
“Peace, security, unity, and harmony are prerequisites for development in Africa,” Buhari said while calling on African citizens to innovate on how “silencing the guns” can be used to achieve peace and grow African economies.
He also urged regional economic groups, civil society organizations and the private sector in Africa to take full ownership of the theme of this year’s celebration to strengthen collaborative efforts among member countries of the African Union.
The Africa Day is observed annually on May 25, to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union, which was created on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
More African countries should heed UN call for global ceasefire: Guterres
More African countries should heed the UN call for a global ceasefire to push back deadly COVID-19, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.
Marking Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963, the UN chief said in his message that the COVID-19 pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The AU has established a task force to develop a continent-wide strategy and appointed special envoys to mobilize international support, said the UN chief. Its Peace and Security Council has also taken steps to counter the negative impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of critical peace agreements and reconciliation efforts.
He noted that the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a response fund, while African member states have undertaken “robust measures to contain the spread of the virus and mitigate the socio-economic impacts.”
Guterres welcomed the AU’s support for his global ceasefire call, an imperative that also reflects the AU’s 2020 theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”
“Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral ceasefires. I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls,” he added.
Some 20 African countries are scheduled to hold elections this year, some of which are likely to be postponed due to the pandemic, with potential consequences for stability and peace, noted the secretary-general.
“I urge African political actors to engage in inclusive and sustained political dialogue to ease tensions around elections and uphold democratic practices.”
Last week, the UN issued a policy brief outlining the impacts of the pandemic on the continent. “We are calling for debt relief and action to maintain food supplies, protect jobs and cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings. African countries, like everyone, everywhere, should also have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment.”
An opportunity now exists, for African governments to “use this moment” to shape new policies that bolster health systems, improve social protection and pursue climate-friendly pathways, he said.
Targeting measures to those employed in the informal sector, the vast majority of whom are women, will be an important step to recovery, said Guterres, as will empowering women to ensure their full participation and leadership.
“The inclusion and leadership of young people will also be crucial every step of the way,” said Guterres.
China to continue to stand firmly with African brothers, sisters, says envoy on Africa Day
“China will continue to stand firmly with African brothers and sisters. I believe that with the joint efforts of China and Africa, we will eventually triumph over this pandemic (of COVID-19),” Zhang Jun, China‘s permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Africa Day, the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963.
On the day, Zhang sent letters to the permanent observer of the AU to the United Nations, permanent representative of South Africa (chair of the AU) to the United Nations, and permanent representatives of other African countries to the United Nations.
“Since 1963, under the guidance of the Organization of African Unity and the African Union, African countries have made historic achievements in seeking strength through unity, gaining independence and freedom from colonial imperialists and exploring paths of development in light of their own national conditions. Africa has made significant contributions to the world peace and development,” he said.
“China is truly proud of the progress made by Africa and deeply grateful for the valuable support provided by African friends,” said the envoy.
“China is also doing its utmost to assist Africa in tiding over the pandemic. China has sent medical expert teams to Africa’s five sub-regions and their neighboring countries, provided large quantities of medical supplies, and organized video conferences with African medical workers to share experience,” he noted.
“China and Africa have shared weal and woe. China is willing to enhance coordination and cooperation with Africa under the UN and other multilateral frameworks to jointly safeguard the common interests of developing countries, pursue common development, and build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future,” said the ambassador.
Africa Day 2020: Buhari advocates for peace, security to achieve sustainable development
President Muhammadu Buhari says Peace, security, unity and harmony are prerequisites for development in Africa
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said President Buhari stated this in a message to African leaders to mark the ”Africa Day 2020”.
The event was commemorated by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Nigerian leader, therefore, called for peace on the continent as a prerequisite for sustainable development.
He stressed the need for African leaders to ensure that every effort is made to ensure the success of silencing the guns on the continent.
He also emphasized the need to sensitize Africans about the inseparable connection between peace and development.
President Buhari urged citizens all over the continent to innovate on how ”Silencing the Guns” could be used to achieve peace and grow African economies.
He also urged regional economic groups, civil society organisations and the private sector in Africa to take full ownership of the theme of this year’s celebration to strengthen collaborative efforts among member-countries of the African Union.
Africa Day is observed annually on May 25, to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the precursor of the African Union, which was created on May 25, 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
WHO fear ‘silent’ virus epidemic unless Africa prioritises testing
Africa has so far been spared the worst impact of the coronavirus, but World Health Organisation (WHO) is worried the continent could face a “silent epidemic” if its leaders fail to prioritise testing for it.
“My first point for Africa, my first concern, is that a lack of testing is leading to a silent epidemic in Africa.
The WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Africa was the region with the fewest diagnosed coronavirus cases, accounting for less than 1.5 per cent of the global total and just 0.1per cent of deaths.
The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said some countries had taken measures to curb the disease at a high economic cost.
Those measures meant the pandemic was having a milder impact so far than some models had predicted, Moeti said.
Tedros credited the continent’s experience dealing with other epidemics as helping it scale up its response to the coronavirus and be spared the impact seen elsewhere so far.
All African countries had preparedness plans in place, he said, although there were still “gaps and vulnerabilities”.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Africa Day: APRA urges African leaders to look inwards for solutions
Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, APRA President, gave the advice in a statement on Monday.
He noted that since inception, the need for Africa to stand together could not be over emphasized than now when the continent faced a global pandemic that left every part of the world struggling for its own survival.
Badejo-Okusanya said that rather than brood over the present situation, this was an opportunity for Africa to look inwards by developing its own homegrown solutions in terms of medical equipment and innovation to cures.
“African leaders working together offers the opportunity to break away from the preconceived notions and mindsets that have held us bound for too long.
“This year’s theme for Africa Day ‘Silencing The Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic’ is quite apt.
“In the words of the founding father of African Unity, the late Dr Kwame Osageyefo Nkrumah, we must unite now or perish.
“We must recognise that our economic independence resides in our African Union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement, “he said.
Badejo-Okusanya said that “if we must silence the guns and create conducive conditions for the development of Africa by jointly fighting this pandemic, communication was key.
He noted that APRA would continue to create a positive narrative for the continent and its people.
“We will create synergies with other professions, governments and organisations to achieve this goal,” he said.
He said that the team was charged with the responsibility of giving Africa and APRA a voice on issues of governance, leadership and development.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Africa Day: Putin congratulates Africa, hails Russia-African close relationship
Russian President Vladmir Putin has congratulated African Countries and leaders on the occasion of the Africa Day celebration, hailing the close relationship between the Continent and Russia.
In a message signed by Putin and obtained from the Russian Embassy in Abuja on Monday, Putin said that the day symbolizes the aspiration of the countries of Africa to freedom, peace and prosperity.
He added that the celebration was significant to both Russia and Africa as it reaffirms the relationship of the duo which dates back to the colonial era.
“This holiday assumes special significance in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and people celebrated this year.
“Decades ago, when many African Peoples were just embarking on the path of sovereign development, our country provided them with active political support, extensive assistance in the social and economic sphere, and training of civilian and military personnel.
“Today, African Countries are Russia’s significant and promising partners, who enjoy well-deserved authority on the global arena and play an active role in addressing topical international issues,” he said.
Putin noted that the Russia-Africa Summit which held in 2019 in Sochi, turned out to be an exclusively important milestone in the development of Russian-African relations.
According to him, the dialogue between our Countries has been brought to a qualitatively new level.
“The Russia-Africa Partnership Forum established during the Summit will undoubtedly contribute to building up mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and coordinating efforts to counter the threats and challenges of our time.
“I whole-heartedly wish you good health, prosperity and every success in your state activities, and peace and prosperity to all your compatriots,” Putin said.
Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Africa javelin champ Yego looks to clinch gold in final Olympics
Africa javelin champion Julius Yego hopes to use the Diamond League campaign to improve his throws ahead of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Yego, 31, won silver with one throw at the last Olympics in Rio in 2016, before a groin and ankle injury slowed his progress.
However, after three years of rehabilitation, false starts and bruised egos, Yego is ready to pick up the gauntlet and stake his claim to the javelin gold at the delayed Tokyo Games next year.
Yego is eyeing the Diamond League to showcase his blossoming talent and reclaim his status on the world stage.
“I started my training early enough knowing that for the first time, I had no niggling injuries. I can say, I was doing very well in training and looked forward to start of the season,” Yego said in Nairobi on Monday.
His target will be to improve his personal best time. At the continental level in Rabat, Morocco last year, Yego threw a season’s best 87.73 meters to clinch the Africa title, just five meters off his personal best, which he set in Beijing in 2015 when he hurled the javelin 92.72m to win the world title.
“I feel this was to be my year. I had it all planned, but I have to go back and plan hoping to emerge stronger when the lockdown is lifted. It is important to remain fit and active so as to take little time to return to competition,” he added.
World Athletics has confirmed that the Diamond League will start in August.
“In Rio, I got silver because of injury. I was sure to win gold in 2020, but here we are, the Games are postponed. I still hope that I will achieve my dream of getting an Olympic gold next year because I believe it will be my last appearance at the Games,” said Yego.
The lockdown and closure of training camps in Kenya has not stopped Yego from training.
“I maintain a strict routine to keep fit through running and other small exercises,” added Yego. “I hope to regain my form, which I had in 2015. Time will tell.”
Mozambican president says conflicts go against Africa’s common development goal
President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi said Monday that conflicts continue to be an obstacle to the progress of African continent, and goals will not be achieved if guns are not silenced.
The Mozambican head-of-state was addressing the nation in Maputo as part of the celebration of the Africa Day, which marks the 57th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the predecessor of African Union.
“This year’s theme: ‘silencing weapons to create favorable conditions for the development of Africa’ was set in recognition of the need to promote peace and conditions for sustainable and inclusive development, which will never materialize if there are conflicts,” said the president.
He highlighted the terrorist attacks in northern Mozambique as an example that those threats make it impossible to realize the common dream of prosperity.
The president promised his country will contribute to peace promotion, economic and social integration of the region and continent, as Mozambique is expected to assume the rotating presidency of the Southern African Development Community later this year.
Nyusi also said that African countries should come together and coordinate approaches to fight COVID-19, for an effective response that will allow economic recovery and sustainable growth.
Africa’s confirmed COVID-19 cases surpass 110,000: Africa CDC
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 111,348 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 3,348 as of Monday afternoon, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.
The Africa CDC, in its latest continental situation update report issued on Monday, showed that some 44,630 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent as of Monday afternoon.
Figures from the Africa CDC also showed that amid the rapid spread of the virus across the continent, the highly COVID-19 affected African countries include South Africa with 22,583 confirmed cases, Egypt with 17,265 confirmed cases, Algeria with 8,306 confirmed cases, and Nigeria with 7,839 confirmed cases.
The Africa CDC said that the Northern African region is the most affected area across the continent both in terms of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the number of deaths.
AU commission chief urges Africans to drive toward self-sufficiency
Marking Africa Day, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Monday underlined the need for Africans to chart their own course that seeks own solutions for problems of varied natures.
“In a world in which multilateralism is sorely tested, Africa must stop expecting solutions from others,” said the chairperson.
Reiterating that the African continent is endowed with enormous resources, the chairperson called for inward-looking and self-reliance approach, which will be a catalyst for the renaissance of African nations.
“We should however redouble efforts, determination and perseverance in strictly implementing the pillars of the strategy. We should go beyond the present situation, by preparing for post–pandemic conditions in the world.”
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now AU, on May 25, 1963.
Africa Day commemorated to build better Africa: PAP
Pan-African Parliament (PAP) situated in South Africa believed that Africa Day should be used to reflect on how to build a better Africa and a better world.
Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity, now African Union (AU), on May 25, 1963.
The Acting PAP President Bouras Djamel told Xinhua that Africa Day is a reminder of the commitment made by AU members to address challenges facing the continent, to build inclusive and sustainable development.
“Commemoration of Africa Day is an opportunity for Africans to reflect on the journey, renew strength and motivation to realize the liberation and absolute freedom from foreign domination,” Djamel said.
PAP called for a deeper reflection on the common challenges that the continent faces in a global environment and to come up with solutions for the continent in the areas including development, health, digitalization, sustainability, jobs for young people.
Djamel stated that African made strides in empowering women, improving gender equality and boosting economies.
On this day, PAP takes this opportunity to commend all members for their courage and cooperation in the bid to save the lives of the African people from the rage of COVID-19, he said.
He called on members to reinforce political commitment and accountability to front-load investments to strengthen national health systems and provide long-term domestic resources needed to achieve health goals, grounded in principles of inclusivity, transparency and accountability.
Economist warns S. Africa’s economy may take years to recover
“The South African economy will likely remain in a recession for a prolonged time. The lost production in the past two months will be lost for many years,” chief economist with Efficient Group Dawie Roodt told Xinhua on Monday.
He was reacting to the president’s Sunday announcement that the majority of the economy would be opened on June 1 as lockdown measures were eased.
Roodt believed hardship would be on the rise.
“The economy was in a technical recession before, so this has worsened everything…hardship and poverty for a number of citizens would increase due to this,” he said.
The Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago last week said macroeconomic policies to deal with the lockdown problems should be implemented. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver a new budget that would respond to COVID -19 challenges in June.
Labor federation Cosatu said the budget to be tabled must be “decisive and bold” to deal with the “economic depression”. It said it must be aimed at kick-starting the economy and retaining jobs.
S. Africa to start human trial for COVID-19 rapid breath test in June
South African researchers, in cooperation with their U.S. counterparts, will start a ground-breaking human trial for COVID-19 rapid breath test in June.
The South Africa-based Ezintsha research group at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and U.S.-based Canary Health Technologies will collaborate on the trial, the researchers said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.
The trial will determine whether a highly accurate, non-invasive, disposable breath test that could detect virus before symptom onset could be on global market before the end of 2020.
The rapid breath test, if successful, can deliver results on site in less than five minutes, thus quickly detecting persons at risk to reduce transmission.
Using exhaled Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) found in human breath as biomarkers of the virus, this diagnostic test (COVID-19 RT BAP) could potentially identify those who are acutely infected with COVID-19 as well as those who have not yet developed clinical symptoms, according to the statement.
The initial phase of the trial will see the collection of breath samples from 150 people – both COVID-19 positive patients and those who do not have the virus. They will be asked to breathe for three minutes into the device. The device will then translate their breath biomarkers into electronic signals which will be transmitted to a centralized “lab in the cloud” for analysis.
The human trial is due to start in South Africa by the end of June, with preliminary results expected by the end of July. Similar trials are also planned in the UK and the U.S.
“We are very excited to partner with Canary on this game-changing technology. The holy grail is a real time, point of care device which can capture Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC as biomarkers,” said Prof. Francois Venter, an infectious diseases expert and Head of Ezintsha.
This could revolutionize testing for COVID-19, to then build a base to detect many other diseases, he said, adding that a non-invasive and accurate test that healthcare workers can carry in their pockets is a win-win for all.
“We are confident that our highly responsive sensors and proprietary software can detect COVID-19 in less than five minutes without the need of a lab,” he said.
This handheld device with disposable sensors is ideal for use in doctors’ offices, nursing homes, airports and should be available before the end of the year, according to Reddy.
“We aim to set the gold standard in COVID-19 detection,” he said.
If this initial phase of the human trial is successful, Canary Health Technologies will seek to move quickly into a pivotal trial with a larger sample size for expedited regulatory approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other markets, for global use, the statement said.
Elgar eyes South Africa test captaincy
Dean Elgar would be willing to become South Africa’s next test captain as speculation about who will replace Faf du Plessis gathers momentum.
Elgar, who turns 33 next month, put his hand up in an interview with Cricket South Africa (CSA), released on Monday, and joins Aiden Markram on the list of players who have expressed interest in the job.
Quinton de Kock was expected to take over from Du Plessis, having succeeded him as captain of South Africa’s limited-overs teams, but CSA said it did not want to overburden the wicketkeeper-batsman and ruled him out of the test captaincy.
With CSA still trying to find a solution to playing their scheduled three-test series against the West Indies in July, the appointment of a captain has become more pressing.
“It’s definitely not an easy journey being a test captain but I think leadership is something that comes extremely naturally to me,” Elgar said.
“I’ve captained teams in the past, right up from school level to provincial level and at franchise level.
“I enjoyed it extremely and if I was asked to take on the captaincy, it’s definitely something I would think long and hard about because it would mean a lot to me.”
Du Plessis quit as captain after South Africa lost their home series to England at the start of the year.
Elgar twice deputised for Du Plessis as captain, losing the 2017 Lords test to England by 211 runs and overseeing a 107-run victory over Pakistan in early 2019.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/ (NAN)