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S. Africa, Nigeria working `progressively’ toward strategic fight against xenophobia, says Envoy

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Amb. Bobby Moroe, South Africa’s Acting High Commissioner to Nigeria said on Monday that both countries were working progressively toward adopting an Early Warning Mechanism (EWM) aimed at tackling xenophobia.

The South African envoy made this known in an interview wth the Nigeria News Agency

EWM is a strategy involving technology, associated policies and procedures designed to predict and mitigate the harm of natural and human-initiated disasters and other undesirable events, in this case, xenophobia.

According to him, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s the Special Envoy, Mr Jeff Radebe and Special Advisor, Dr Khulu Mbatha, have arrived in Nigeria to deliver a message on the issue to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“They will deliver a special message to President Buhari from President Ramaphosa; their visit to Nigeria reaffirms the longstanding relations between South Africa and Nigeria.

“The visit also seeks to cement these relations further ahead of the state visit to South Africa by President Buhari on Oct. 3.

“We look forward to fruitful discussions between the special envoy and President Buhari.

“The EWM is a progressive initiative by both countries to deal with the challenges we face.

“It remains work in progress and we hope that it will be finalised at a mutually convenient time,” he said.

He expressed the hope that the aides’ visit would further strengthen the already strong historical relationship between the two countries dating back to the era of apartheid.

Moroe told that the envoys would visit Niger Republic, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia with a view to ensuring that the relations between them and South Africa remained strong.

Moroe quoted Ramaphosa as saying “South Africa has been home to foreign nationals even before the end of apartheid.

“We are a hospitable and a peace-loving nation which has for many years fully integrated people from different countries within communities.

“Our government continues to condemn attacks on foreign nationals and recommits to work with law enforcement agencies to bring all perpetrators to book, regardless of nationality.

“This includes South African nationals.

“To this end, the relations between Nigeria and South Africa remains strong and shall remain so for many more years to come.

“May peace reign between both countries.”
FEA/IAA/YEE

(Edited by Isaac Aregbesola/Emmanuel Yashim)

Foreign

Chinese embassy donates food to less privileged S. African families

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The Chinese embassy on Friday donated food parcels to less privileged families in Soweto township in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“We are here to pay tribute and offer support to the people of Soweto through donations of some mostly needed supplies to local community. These 1,000 food parcels and 5,000 masks are not much, while they represent the cordial brotherhood and friendship between the people of China and South Africa,” said Li Nan, Charge d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa.

Li said, “The Chinese companies and communities in South Africa will always fight as one with the South African people to tide over difficulties.”

The African National Congress youth league member Bheki Nkuta thanked China for the donations.

He said, “We thank the embassy for coming to our communities, we appreciate that.”

A 32-year old resident Nolwazi Majola told Xinhua that she will share the donated food parcels with eight family members. She said they are all grateful for the donation which will supplement the food they bought with grant from the government.

(XINHUA)

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Health

Polio eradication expertise backs Africa’s COVID-19 response –WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says expertise in polio eradication that has put Africa on the verge of being certified free of wild poliovirus has been brought to the frontlines of COVID-19 fight.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo disclosed this in a statement posted on its website and also on its twitter handle on Friday.

“À network of responders from WHO Polio Eradication Programme and partner organisations is providing critical resources and skills to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While testing is the core of any strategy to contain the virus, the region has had a relatively low number of tests performed.

“Since the outbreak started, nearly two million tests have been carried out in the WHO African Region, with an average test rate of 15.3 per 10 000 population.

“To boost diagnosis, the WHO-coordinated polio laboratory network comprising 16 laboratories in 15 countries is now dedicating 50 per cent of its capacity to COVID-19 testing.

“Hundreds of tests are carried out every day using polio testing machines in Algeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.’’

The statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying: “in Africa, no one has the footprint of the polio programme nor the expertise for mounting effective response campaigns.

So with COVID-19 threatening to overwhelm health systems, the extensive polio response network is once again lending crucial support as countries build up systems to contain COVID-19,’’ she said.

Contact tracing has been a central pillar of the WHO polio programme’s support to the COVID-19 response.

Mobile phone applications originally developed for health workers to use in polio outbreak response and disease surveillance have been adapted by WHO to be used against COVID-19.

In Zimbabwe, for example, over 100 disease surveillance officers are using these tools for case investigations and contact tracing in many provinces where COVID-19 has been confirmed.

In addition, WHO Geographic Information System (GIS) centre in Brazzaville is using its huge experience in outbreak response and disease surveillance to support countries with a range of GIS and software technology and manual solutions to respond to COVID-19.

The GIS team is now working around the clock supporting countries to take up the technology for COVID-19 response.

More than 2,000 polio response experts from WHO, UNICEF, Rotary, as well as STOP consultants from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are supporting the COVID-19 response in the African Region.

A quarter of WHO polio staff are dedicating more than 80 per cent of their time towards COVID-19 efforts, with 65 per cent anticipating a commitment of six months or more.

Alongside the support to the COVID-19 response, WHO polio staff are also maintaining critical functions and planning to resume mass polio immunisation campaigns once the situation permits.

The statement further quoted Moeti as saying: “It is important that the support to COVID-19 response does not jeopardize the progress made in stopping all forms of polio transmission in the region.

“The fight against the pandemic should not come at the detriment of other health emergencies.’’

Across the continent, COVID-19 has disrupted mass polio vaccination campaigns in line with the global physical distancing recommendations that limit COVID-19 transmission.

The suspension of high-quality immunisation rounds may risk new polio outbreaks due to low coverage.


Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Economy

2030 Agenda: NSE boss urges West Africa to embrace green bond finance

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The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday urged West African countries to shift and scale up green bond finance and investment to meet the ambitious goals of 2030 agenda and Paris Agreement.

Mr Oscar Onyema, NSE Chief Executive Officer, stated this at the inaugural edition of the webinar series on the Sustainable Capital Markets for West Africa.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the webinar series was organised by the Exchange in collaboration with the Milken Institute.

NAN also reports that the webinar was themed: ‘Sustainable Capital Markets for West Africa: Fundamentals of Developing Green Bond Markets.’

It will be recalled that the 2030 Agenda applies to all countries of the world.

It was approved by the UN member states after a transparent and inclusive process. Its centerpiece comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be implemented by 2030.

 

Onyema noted that West Africa needs to significantly shift and scale up green finance and investment to meet the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

He explained that large-scale private sector engagement and investment in the region would be needed to drive its transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the least responsible for global climate change, contributing about four per cent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, but one of the most vulnerable to the risk posed by climate change.

“In its situation analysis of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), ECOWAS stated that a record number of five out of the 10 countries in the world, deemed most threatened by climate change are West African states.

“This is because, major sources of livelihood of the majority of people in the region, namely agriculture and forestry, are dependent on the climate.

“The relationship between climate change, food production, food prices and extreme weather conditions collectively threaten food security.

“This makes the region susceptible to frequent food crises and famines which are triggered by pest infestation, droughts, floods, economic downturns and conflicts,” he said.

According to Onyema, sustainable capital markets, a relatively nascent market segment within the region’s financial market landscape will be a major driver for the transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development.

“By deploying innovative sustainable finance solutions and facilitating an enabling environment, West Africa can position itself to mobilise hundreds of billions of dollars for investment in sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency,” he said.

He stressed on the need for collaborations and capacity building to help accelerate the pace for West Africa to formulate an effective policy framework and develop a market for sustainable finance.

Also speaking, Ms Patience Oniha, said the DMO in Nigeria was responsible for borrowing either from the capital market or money market.

Oniha said DMO partnered with the Ministry of Finance to float first Green Bond in line with the Paris Agreement signed by the Federal Government.

She added that the government floated the Green Bond because of its keen interest in developing the domestic market and diversification of infrastructural base.

The DMO boss, who disclosed that the government would scale up the amount of green bonds, said cost of transaction and time to market should be reviewed to encourage more participants.

Ms Justine Leigh-Bell, Director of Market Development, Climate Bonds Initiative, called for simplicity in developing policies for green bonds.

Leigh-Bell noted that West Africa should benchmark its green bond inline with global market principles to achieve the desired result.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Health

Africa’s COVID-19 cases over 168,000 – WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the figure of COVID-19 cases in Africa is over 168, 464 as at June 5.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo gave the update on its official twitter handle @WHOAFRO, on Friday.

“There are over 168,464 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 73,000 recoveries and 4,700 deaths,’’ it said.

The figures show that South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria have the highest reported cases on the continent.

According to the report, South Africa has 40,792 cases and 848 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 11, 516 confirmed cases and 323 deaths, while Algeria has 9,831 confirmed cases and 681 deaths.

It said Ghana had 8,885 reported cases and 38 deaths, while Cameroon recorded 6,789 confirmed cases and 203 deaths.

The report said Lesotho, Seychelles and Namibia were countries currently with the lowest confirmed cases in the region.

It said Lesotho had only four confirmed cases with zero death, Seychelles had 11 reported cases and zero death, while Namibia recorded 25 confirmed cases also with no death.


Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)

 

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Foreign

African innovators launch platform to enhance linkage with industry

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Budding innovators from the Sub-Saharan African region will be able to access funding from the private sector, thanks to Friday’s launch of a platform to help realise that objective.

The Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences said the platform, dubbed ‘Grand Challenges Africa Innovation Network’ (GCAIN), will help tackle financing bottlenecks that hamper the harnessing of cutting edge innovation to solve challenges facing society.

“This platform will provide innovators with the resources they need to succeed.

“This includes potential new markets and funding,’’ said Moses Alobo, Grand Challenges Africa programme manager.

Innovation is a risky affair that requires long-term investment and whose results are not always immediate.

“This is the reason we at Grand Challenges Africa are providing this as a sustainable and long-term funding strategy for research and innovations,’’ he added.

Alobo said the platform connects African innovators to industry, angel investors and venture capitalists, who can provide the financing required to commercialise ideas.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) said that underfunding is to blame for a partly 0.6 per cent of African innovation that is scaled up to commercial level.

Alobo said that a robust partnership between African research institutions and industry is key to unlocking financing required to commercialise innovation and ensure they offer solutions to endemic challenges of poverty, disease, hunger and malnutrition.

He said the launch of the new platform to link African innovators with potential financiers was informed by a survey conducted in 2018, which indicated that access to capital will enhance their capacity to transform societies in diverse areas like maternal health, nutrition and clean energy.

“The innovators, however, identified limited entrepreneurial capacity, poor funding, unfavourable regulatory policies and lack of access to markets as major setbacks,’’ Alobo said.

Laud Anthony Basing, an innovator from Ghana, said the new platform will promote collaboration among his counterparts from the rest of the continent and share expertise on commercialising ideas than can make a positive impact on local communities.

“This is a game-changer for the innovation space and will be crucial in ensuring that our ideas get the support they need to make it to market and to impact African lives,’’ Basing said.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Foreign

S. African president promises to address staff shortages in COVID-19 epicenter

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President Cyril Ramaphosa promised on Friday to urgently address the staff shortages in the Western Cape, the country’s epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic.

The province will get what it needs to cope with the rapid rise in infections, the president said while touring the Cape Town International Conference Center (CTICC), which is being turned into a 850-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients.

The president was on an inspection visit to Cape Town and the Western Cape where confirmed COVID-19 cases have been rising at a faster pace.

The Western Cape accounts for more than 66 percent of the nation’s COVID-19 cases and more than 76 percent of related deaths.

As of Thursday, the province recorded 27,006 confirmed cases and 651 related deaths, while the cumulative numbers of cases and deaths in the country respectively stood at 40,792 and 848.

During the visit, Ramaphosa was briefed by the Western Cape government on the provincial health system’s level of preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and on the province’s hotspot strategy and implementation plan.

“We are fighting a life and death war and staffing challenges must be solved,” Ramaphosa said after being told that staff shortages are the biggest challenge facing the Western Cape.

He refuted the notion that the staff shortages were worsened by lack of money.

“Money is not a problem and I will not accept a lack of staff as an excuse. We must pull out all stops to save lives,” Ramaphosa said.

Every effort must be made to identify and headhunt the necessary staff, he said.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans is ready to bring in defence personnel who will be able to come to this province immediately to come and lend a hand,” Ramaphosa said.

All potential pools of talent and skills must be tapped, he said.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who accompanied the president on the visit, promised to help the Western Cape resolve the testing backlog with a shipment of testing kits that are clearing customs.

The province faces a backlog of 27,000 tests at the National Health Laboratory Service.

This means that someone who is seriously ill in hospital, or a health-worker, or someone who is at high risk of dying from COVID-19, may have to wait between seven to 12 days for a result.

As a result, the Western Cape government has decided to only test those who are at highest risk and most vulnerable of dying from COVID-19 infection in the Cape Town metropolitan area.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Africa CDC urges more support to fight against COVID-19

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As the pandemic is rising on the continent, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Friday urged more support to its initiative — Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT).

PACT is anchored on the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 endorsed by the AU bureau of heads of state and government to curb COVID-19 transmission in Africa, by strengthening the capacity to test, trace, and treat COVID-19 cases on the continent.

“There is only one formula to fight COVID-19 in Africa and that is the PACT initiative,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, emphasizing that the daily figures show clearly that the pandemic is still on the rise.

Under the initiative, Africa CDC is working with AU member states and several partners to support pooled procurement, storage and distribution of diagnostics and other medical supplies; testing of at least 10 million individuals, and the deployment of one million community workers and community healthcare workers.

In a statement on Friday, the Centre said it has partnered with MasterCard Foundation, which is committing 40 million United States dollars to PACT.

The fund will be used for the purchase of one million test kits, and to train and deploy 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing as well as strengthen Africa CDC‘s capacity to oversee a continental response to the pandemic, according the statement.

The Africa CDC undertakes these COVID-19 response measures in partnership with the African Field Epidemiology Network.

PACT will also support the deployment of technology platforms that will enhance testing, epidemiological modeling, and critical health forecasting, to support re-opening and recovery of economies.

“And to defeat the pandemic Africa needs greater cooperation with everybody, including the governments, the community, the media, and the development partners,” said Nkengasong,.

“We need to equip, deploy and train more healthcare workers as quickly as possible, and we expect that there will be more cooperation and solidarity through PACT,” he has noted.

Africa CDC has distributed more than 2.5 million tests and provided medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, and ventilators, across Africa.

As of May 31, 2020, Africa CDC had deployed 164 community healthcare workers to support COVID-19 response across 14 Member States and at its headquarters in Ethiopia.

Africa CDC is rallying resources and support to bridge existing gaps in public health systems by meeting the PACT targets.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Africa’s COVID-19 tally exceeds 168,000 cases, deaths reach 4,700 – WHO

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 168,464, and at least 4,700 people have died, statistics from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) office for the African Region showed on Friday.

“Over 168,464

confirmed #COVID19 cases on the African continent – with more than 73,000 recoveries & 4,700 deaths,” the office wrote on Twitter.

Most cases in the region were detected in South Africa with 40,792, Egypt with 28,615, and Nigeria with 11,516.

Egypt, South Africa, and Algeria account for the highest number of related fatalities with 1,088, 848 and 681 deaths, respectively.

In May, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Africa was the least affected region in the world in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

He noted that the continent had 1.5 per cent of the world’s reported infections and less than 0.1 per cent of the global deaths from the infection.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Foreign

S. Africa strengthens scrutiny of political funding under new law

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Act (PAIA) which strengthens scrutiny of political funding, his office said on Friday.

The PAIA gives citizens access to information about funding for political parties, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

Under the Act, information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates must be recorded, preserved and disclosed so as to ensure transparency and accountability.

The records must be kept for at least five years after they have been created, according to the Act.

In a ruling on June 21, 2018, the Constitutional Court declared that the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 is invalid and unconstitutional as it does not provide for disclosure of information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

The court ordered Parliament to make necessary amendment to bring the Act in line with the Constitution and to take any other measures it deems appropriate.

Based on this ruling, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services put forward an amendment proposal last year, with support from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Both Houses of Parliament approved the amendment last year.

The amendment is expected to address concerns about over-reliance by political parties on private donations as well as the secrecy that clouds political party financing.

There have been concerns that the secrecy that clouds political party financing could damage democratic processes and lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of certain private funders.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, political parties in the country have been united in refusing to open their books, fueling concerns that anonymous donations from masked sources subvert democratic processes, lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of those private interests and dilute the voice of citizens.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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