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Press releases from Africa-Neswroom.com
  1. Considered the “Nobel Prize of agriculture,” the World Food Prize is awarded each year for a specific and exceptionally significant contribution to the production or distribution of food. This year, the prize was awarded to Akinwumi Adesina, a former Nigerian agriculture minister - and currently the president of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) - for his contributions to increasing productivity in that country's agricultural sector.

    A list of Adesina's achievements as minister of agriculture from 2010 to 2015 spans several pages. But for the World Food Prize, the focal point was his introduction of the Electronic Wallet (E-Wallet) platform to Nigeria's food production and distribution chain.

    Through the E-Wallet, Adesina pioneered a new way for the Nigerian government to deliver subsidized farm inputs, such as fertilizer and seeds, to local farmers through private agro-dealers. The farmers, in turn, get to redeem these subsidized inputs from the agro-dealers using e-vouchers, which they can access through their mobile phones.

    To implement the platform, Adesina initiated a Growth and Enhancement Support Scheme (GES). He powered the scheme by orchestrating the successful registration of more than five million Nigerian farmers, whose information and mobile phone numbers were added to the GES database. The database, coupled with the E-Wallet, now allows Nigerian farmers to receive directly from the government everything from fertilizer to high-yield rice seeds and palm oil seedlings.

    In the past, such subsidized inputs would have bypassed the farmers and fallen into the hands of black marketers who would have sold the inputs on the open market or in neighboring countries. According to the World Food Prize, through the E-wallet Adesina succeeded in breaking the “back of corrupt elements that had controlled the fertilizer distribution system for 40 years.”

    The platform also helped solve other previously intractable problems in the way of commercial large scale food production in Nigeria.

    For example, the country's paddy rice farmers, through the E-Wallet, were able to receive from the government award-winning, high yield NERICA rice varieties, which saw their output rise from five to six tons per hectare. Thousands of paddy farmers producing a consistent grade of rice soon created the opportunity for several agro-based companies to switch from rice importation to local rice production, and standardization of the country's rice output led to large private sector investments in rice milling.

    The World Food Prize compares the spread of Adesina's efforts in scale to the “Green Revolution” work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug. In the 1970s and 1980s, Borlaug introduced high-yield dwarf wheat to Latin America and Asia, spawning “Green Revolutions” on two continents.

    As other African countries start to adopt E-Wallet platforms to get subsidized inputs - and even financial services - directly to their farmers, the World Food Prize claims Adesina's E-Wallet is “sparking a Borlaugian 'Take It to the Farmer' revolution across Africa.”

    Farming creates jobs for young people

    In his more recent job as president of Africa's premier multilateral development finance institution, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Adesina embraces the continent's “youth bulge” both as an opportunity and a resource in working for economic transformation.

    Africa's labor market is expected to absorb 11 million youths every year for the next decade. Despite rapid growth in formal wage sector jobs, the World Bank estimates that most of the continent's young people “are likely to work on family farms and in household enterprises, often with very low incomes.”

    Adesina wants to drive Africa's economic transformation by empowering the continent's youth population and making agriculture the hottest startup sector for young people. To achieve this goal, he wants to change the perception of agriculture in Africa from being a survival activity to a vehicle for wealth creation; from a hobby to a business.

    It therefore came as no surprise when Adesina, halfway through his acceptance speech for the World Food Prize, declared to the crowded room in the American Midwestern city of Des Moines that “there will be no rest for me until Africa feeds itself, and for that we need the youth.”

    “Even though I don't have the cheque in my hand right now,” he continued, “I hereby commit my quarter of a million dollars... prize award to set up a fund fully dedicated to providing grants, fellowships and financing for the youth of Africa in agriculture as a business.”

    Adesina's vision for Africa's youth and agriculture becomes prescient as the world's geopolitical winds shift the focus of policymakers.

    Britain's Brexit vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States mark a rightward shift in the geopolitical landscape, with increasing numbers of countries appealing to more nationalistic agendas and responding to calls to stem immigration.

    Creating jobs for young people in agriculture can both help Africa's economic transformation and offer a solution to some of the challenges facing the continent and the world: the high rate of youth unemployment in Africa; human trafficking and the high rate of illegal migration of young Africans into Europe; sustainably kickstarting Africa's industrialization; and preventing religious radicalization and combating terrorism.

    To gain a clearer understanding of these issues, the lectures and speeches Adesina has given around the world are a good place to start:

    On Youth Unemployment and Illegal Migration to Europe

    Africa's rapid population growth, specifically the growth of the working-age population, complicates a precarious labor market characterized by poor-quality employment, which in turn creates the urge for the youth to seek better opportunities elsewhere. The International Labor Organization estimates that in the next four years an additional 12.6 million youth in sub-Saharan Africa will enter the labour force.

    Data from the International Organization for Migration (https://goo.gl/5f3Bd7) reveals that more than 154,000 young Africans have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe in 2017 so far. More than 2,900 have died trying to make the crossing. In 2016, more than 352,000 Africans crossed into Europe and more than 4,750 died.

    Adesina, in remarks (https://goo.gl/Seb1Lp) leading up to the 2015 Action Plan for African Agricultural Transformation conference in Dakar, pointed out that “the agricultural sector [in Africa] has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty than any other sector.”

    “That is why we make the claim that we can diminish the migrant crisis in Europe by supporting agricultural transformation in Africa,” he said.

    In remarks at the 2017 G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy, back in May, Adesina expanded on this vision when he said that “the future of Africa's youth does not lie in migration to Europe” nor should it be “at the bottom of the Mediterranean.” He proposed rather that an agribusiness-driven economy could be one of the economic reasons Africa's youth choose to remain on the continent.

    “We must turn rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity,” Adesina said. “This requires new agricultural innovations and transforming agriculture into a sector for creating wealth. We must make agriculture a really cool choice for young people.”

    “The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come initially from agriculture.”

    On Africa's Industrialization

    Industrialization has been referred to as the most effective driver of structural poverty reduction. Experts remind us that no developing country has transitioned into a developed country without industrializing.

    Adesina, in his opening speech at the Dakar conference, questioned the theory that assumes labour must move from the agricultural sector to the industrial sector. Rather, Adesina suggested an economic theory of industrialization that sees Africa's industrialization starting from the agricultural sector.

    “The reality,” he said, “is that agro-industrialization has greatest potential for Africa to achieve more rapid and inclusive growth - and create jobs... If you want industrialization of Africa, and massive job creation, focus on industrializing the agriculture sector.”

    He went on to add, “to rapidly modernize agriculture, we must get the youth engaged in the sector. We must change the perception of the youths of agriculture - they must see agriculture as a business.”

    On radicalization and terrorism

    The Africa Center for Strategic Studies has warned (https://goo.gl/u5Re4c) that one of the “key effect of ISIS's continued loss of territory and operational capacity in Iraq and Syria will be an increase in the number of ISIS fighters returning to regions in Africa already facing a threat from violent Islamists.”

    In his opening remarks (https://goo.gl/v8HPjX) at the West African Ministerial Conference in October 2016, Adesina observed that “today, across Africa, unemployed youths are turning into gangs, getting into kidnappings for a living, getting recruited to join terrorist groups. And those are the wrong kind of jobs.”

    At his speech at the 2017 G7 conference in Italy, he referred to the deadly combination of extreme rural poverty, high youth unemployment and environmental climate degradation as the “triangle of disaster. Where these factors are found, they provide rich recruitment zones for terrorists.”

    In Adesina's view, agribusiness - more than any other economic sector - has the power to bring wealth to the rural parts of Africa

    “I believe that the future millionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, not from the oil and gas industry. Agriculture will become Africa's new oil.”

    Adesina has also announced that his World Food Prize money will be used to establish a World Food Prize Global Youth Institute for Africa, an organization he said will support a new generation of agricultural scientists and innovators across Africa. This organization will nurture and produce graduates known as Borlaug-Adesina Fellows, who will become the next generation of hunger fighters.

    Link to the article on AllAfrica website: https://goo.gl/QaRJkf

    Distributed by APO Group on behalf of AllAfrica.
  2. WHO Libya continues its effort in supporting the country to reach the national, regional and global goals for disease eradication and elimination. After the collapse of L-MEP due to the conflict the measles surveillance program was severely affected and lead to low rate of reporting for cases and so missing of outbreak, and the country faced challenging situation, an urgent and collaborative efforts was required to retrieve the program and move the country forward words towards elimination.

    WHO Libya supported the country in conducting two workshops (July and November 2017) to retrieve measles elimination program and integrate it with  AFP programme, the objective of the workshops were:

    • Review the implementation of AFP surveillance plan for the year 2017.
    • Review the measles situation in Libya (routine and Surveillance)
    • Draft a road map to retrieve Libya measles elimination program by end of 2017
    • Building capacity of the Libyan surveillance staff in all AFP and Measles surveillance issues.
    • Discuss how best they can integrate AFP and measles surveillance.

    Outcome of the two workshops:

    • Applicable plan of actions to accelerate the implementation AFP surveillance plan was developed.
    • A consensus understanding on Libya  measles elimination programme needs was build
    • Refresher training to build the capacity of all EPI and surveillance officers was done
    • Feasible and practical road map to retrieve Libya measles elimination program and integrate it with AFP was developed.

    After the first workshop in July the reporting rate and sampling was dramatically improved, we hope that this November workshop will add to further improvement of Libya AFP and measles programme. WHO will continue to support Government of Libya, MOH, NCDC and the people of Libya for providing optimum healthcare services.

    Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

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  3. To mark World Prematurity Day 2017, the Honourable Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC), Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, and His Excellency, the German Ambassador, Dr. Detlef Wächter, together with the Regional Medical Officers Dr. Wedson Sichalwe (Mtwara) and Dr. Makenge Gwenchele (Lindi) presented the achievements in new-born care improvement through their joint programme “Improving Maternal and Child Health” (IMCH).

    Every year an estimated 15 million babies worldwide are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). In Tanzania, around 236,000 babies were born preterm in 2015.

    The IMCH-programme was launched in 2015 in the regions of Mtwara and Lindi. Under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) and with technical support from GIZ, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, both regions introduced a comprehensive intervention package to uplift new-born health care in all their health facilities.

    As a result, Mtwara and Lindi regions have set new standards in successful new-born care in Tanzania. The programme has proved that the right set of protocols, skill-oriented trainings and mentoring, essential equipment and basic training in maintenance and repair can make a difference. Within 2 years, both regions succeeded to substantially improve new-born care and reduced new-born mortality in hospitals by almost 38%. Furthermore, more preterm babies who survived grow into healthy children without developing long-term disabilities.

    A number of low cost-effective interventions were introduced to the regional health system. Among others is the concept of Kangaroo Care, where the skin-to-skin contact between the new-born and the mother keeps the baby warm. Breastfeeding within the first hour after birth significantly improves the babies’ chances to survive due to the early intake of essential nutrients and antibodies. Frequent standardized check-ups of babies by skilled medical staff immediately after birth, 24 hours and 3 days after birth help early detection and treatment of infections and other complications.

    In addition to the national standard interventions, the regions introduced medical procedures to new-born care in hospitals with technical support from Tanzanian and German GIZ specialists. This included the use of oxygen for new-borns with breathing difficulties, a protocol to prevent and treat low blood sugar and a phototherapy protocol for babies with jaundice, a very common condition in preterm babies and causing irreversible brain damages if not treated timely.

    Today, all 14 regional, district and designated district hospitals in Mtwara and Lindi have a dedicated New-born Care Unit with a total of 286 skilled staff who have been trained and frequently mentored in advanced new-born care. 990 health care workers of the 35 health centers and 160 dispensaries in Mtwara and Lindi were trained in treating new-born emergencies and receive continued support through regular on-the-job mentoring visits done by experienced hospital staff. New standard treatment protocols have been introduced and all health facilities have been furnished with essential medical equipment.

    The achievements of Mtwara and Lindi are an important milestone on the way forward to fight newborn mortality in the country. To support this way forward, His Excellency, the German Ambassador, handed over a set of medical training equipment including special training material to the Honourable Permanent Secretary of Health to be used for trainings of medical staff in advanced new-born care in other regions.

    Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany - Tanzania.

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  4. The Government of Cameroon must engage representatives of the Anglophone population in a meaningful political dialogue and halt renewed violence in the south-west and north-west, where the country’s English-speaking minority are reportedly suffering worsening human rights violations, a group of UN experts* has warned.

    “We urge the Government to adopt all necessary measures consistent with Cameroon’s human rights obligations to end the cycle of violence,” the experts said in a joint statement.

    Up to 17 people have reportedly been killed, and dozens wounded and arrested in demonstrations in the country’s Anglophone regions since 1 October.

    The experts are disturbed by reports of a series of measures taken by the national authorities, including curfews, a ban on public meetings, and other restrictions aimed at preventing peaceful protests. Excessive use of force by the security services, injuries, mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill-treatment have also been reported.

    Freedom of expression has been reportedly limited by the blocking of internet connections and of access to social media platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook, which a UN expert has previously condemned.

    “These restrictions must stop immediately, and the Government must ensure a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations perpetrated during and after the events of 1 October. The Government must take effective measures to prosecute and sanction all those responsible for such violations.

    The appeal for action comes nearly a year after UN experts publicly urged the Government to halt violence against the English-speaking minority, following reports that Anglophone protesters in Buea and Bamenda had suffered undue force.

    The experts also denounced any use of violence against members of the security forces, after reports that several were killed last week.

    Since December 2016, the experts have repeatedly raised concerns directly with the Government of Cameroon and continue to monitor and seek clarification of the alleged human rights violations in the north-west and south-west of the country.

    Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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  5. UNWTO Executive Director Carols Vogeler has implored the tourism sector globally to embrace change and new business models as the world is experiencing technological revolution.

    And Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde was presented with a symbolic cheque of $13,000 from a charity called Just a Drop on behalf of Kawama School and Village in Kashitu area who are recipients of this year’s donation for water development.

    Meanwhile Mr. Vogeler said he is optimist that the upcoming UNWTO - Government of Zambia International Conference on Promoting Sustainable Tourism, “A Tool for Inclusive Growth and Community Engagement in Africa”, which is currently taking place from 16-18th November 2017 in Lusaka will yield positive results.

    Speaking when he officiated at the World Travel Market Tourism Summit last week, Mr. Vogeler said technology is acting as a positive force in all sectors worldwide saying the digital era has created digital tourist: more self-sufficient, better informed and very demanding, who expects a personalised customer service and feels the need to be connected 24/7.

    “New business models need to be based on what the technological environment offers: Innovation in new digital product and services, in distribution, marketing and sales, decision-making based on big data and analytics, platform economies, mobile applications, start-ups, beacons, 360 video, virtual reality, augmented reality, and the cloud. Consumer power will continue to rise and tourism stakeholders must take lead in adapting to this change, rather than fight or ignore it,” he said.

    He said the sector can make technology an ally and maximise the new opportunities to improve the competitiveness of destinations, make travel safe and easier, manage its natural resources more efficiently, and effectively preserve common values and culture.

    He further said tourism is an instrument of development which can break down stereotypes, misconceptions and bring people together to defeat hate or resentment, accept and respect differences and learn from them.

    Mr. Vogeler said tourism growth can and should lead to economic prosperity, jobs and resources to fund environmental protection and cultural preservation, as well as community development and progress needs, which would otherwise not be available.

    “Together we can continue building a sustainable, equitable and well-managed tourism sector that supports many livelihoods around the world and can enrich us every time we cross borders and exchange cultural experiences.
A connected traveler is at once a more responsible and demanding traveler,” he said.

    Mr. Vogeler said the tourism sector needs to manage security risks and prevent them from distilling the essence of tourism as a builder of peace and understanding.

    He said safety and security remains a top priority in the agendas of all countries around the world adding that this global concern requires a global response, and it is a challenge everyone must face together.

    He said the UNWTO will continue to promote the exchange of knowledge in order to increase crisis preparedness and recovery within tourism, along with travel facilitation saying the sector should ensure that its conviction to improve is today stronger than ever. Otherwise, the value of the sector will naturally be lost and contested.

    The World Travel Market Tourism Summit culminated by Just a Drop, a charitable organization based in the United Kingdom helping to provide clean water and sanitation in Asia, Africa and Latin America donating $13,000 to a project providing safe drinking water to Kawama School and Village in Zambia in the Kashitu area.

    The charity was founded in 1998 by the Managing Director of the World Travel Market, Fiona Jeffery and supported by the members of the International Travel Industry. The Institution raises money to build wells, install hand pumps and implement health and sanitation programmes.

    Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Zambia High Commission in the United Kingdom.

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