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Alibaba Netpreneur Training Welcomes 86 New Graduates from Africa

Alibaba Global Initiatives (“AGI”) today announced the graduation of 86 African entrepreneurs from the latest edition of the Alibaba Netpreneur Training (“ANT”) Program. Held from mid-October to mid-November, the Africa-specific edition was rolled out with support from Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition. This philanthropic initiative aims to support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs.

Amidst a growing pivot towards digital channels by companies worldwide, the ANT Program offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn and explore how to harness digital technology to expand their businesses and contribute to the local economy. Over a four-week period, the online program walked the participants through the latest trends and practices shaping China’s digital economy, as well as approaches and frameworks for entrepreneurs to build successful and innovative businesses in today’s digital world.

The 86 graduates emerged following their successful completion of classes, assignments, and assessments, demonstrating their understanding of the fundamentals of the digital economy and their ability to apply their new-found insights in their respective businesses. Collectively, they represent various industries varying from agriculture, education, information & communication technology (ICT), and trading.

Among the graduates in this cohort was Ritalee Monde, Founder of Leemed Supplies Pvt Ltd from Zimbabwe, who started her own business in 2018 with the purpose of providing better access to medical supplies and equipment in her country, especially for women and children in rural regions. The initial years of Ritalee’s business were no smooth sailing, but that did not stop her from exploring new approaches and opportunities.

The ANT Program offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn and explore how to harness digital technology to expand their businesses and contribute to the local economy

“I enrolled for the Netpreneur training because I wanted to change how I conduct business. I was looking forward to studying business frameworks and strategies that would improve my company’s capacity to promote innovation and deliver quality outcomes,” said Monde. “Attending webinars led by a group of people who had really made the journey was quite inspiring. My biggest takeaway is getting to know what business digitalization means. In the same way it has led to the success of many SMEs operating in Alibaba’s ecosystem, I believe a digital shift will help my company tap into new markets and clientele, enhance our productivity, reduce operating and marketing expenses, and lay a foundation to create new jobs and innovate.”

Already running a digital business that spans procurement and forwarding service as well as digital marketing and web development, Emmanuel Yao Agbodo, Founder of Engcando Logistics and Consultancy from Ghana also saw value in the Netpreneur program.

“I have long heard about Alibaba’s innovations and I was curious to learn how the company is able to make them happen. I have also been envisioning exporting locally made products from Ghana one day through digital platforms,” said Yao Agbodo. “What I found most useful for my business was the modules about mission, vision, and values as they are essential to the organizational development and strategic planning of any business, be it digital or traditional. The lesson has sparked new ideas that my company can adopt as we strive to become a leading digital platform in Ghana connecting the local and the international markets.”

Adesola Adetunji, Founder of Digital Education Management System World Academy from Nigeria, also benefited most from the lectures on business fundamentals provided by the training. His start-up, founded last year, is on a mission to provide education in and beyond Nigeria that bridges the gap between what is taught at school and what students nowadays actually need.

“I am ambitious, but I didn’t know how to turn my ambition into reality. With what I have learned from the Netpreneur training, I have acquired the key to formulating my own strategy, which gets me one step closer to realizing my ambition,” said Adetunji. “Among other learnings, I have learned to put my customers front and center, establish and maintain my own company culture, always bet on big ideas, and embrace failure.”

All participants who completed the course have been invited to join the AGI entrepreneur community, where they can continue to network with passionate and like-minded entrepreneurs and enjoy access to post-program learning opportunities such as webinars and newsletters. Outstanding performers among the trainees will also be eligible to participate in offline immersion programs at Alibaba’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China once travels restrictions are lifted.

The Alibaba Netpreneur Training Program was first introduced in 2019 as an initiative to drive success for entrepreneurs in the digital economy. To date, it has successfully trained more than 1,800 entrepreneurs in Africa, Europe, Latin America as well as South and Southeast Asia.

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Useful security tips for Whatsapp chats, data

In a world highly driven by data, data breaches pose a serious threat to millions or possibly even billions of people globally, going by the recent alleged Whatsapp data breach controversy, which the company has denied.

According to a recent allegation from Cybernews, someone managed to hack into WhatsApp and acquired the personal information of almost 500 million users, which is now purportedly for sale.

But, later, a spokesperson for WhatsApp on Monday said there is no evidence of a ‘data leak’ from the company.

However, data breaches are nothing new because even the data from some of the biggest companies have had such incidents. So, it becomes the responsibility of the users to take the right steps to make their data safe and private.

Here are some tips that would be helpful in making WhatsApp more secure.

Check chat encryption

To verify the encryption, tap on the contact’s name in the chat window and then tap on Encryption.

Two-factor authentication provides protection by adding an extra layer of security to your account to ensure that your data isn’t accessed by someone else. So if a service supports this feature then you should be using it.

Turn security notifications on

With this feature, every time a new device accesses an existing chat, a new security code is generated and a notification is sent when this security code changes.

To enable it, go to WhatsApp – Settings – Account – Security notifications and then tap on ‘Show security notification’.

Encrypt cloud backups

WhatsApp backups on Google Drive are not encrypted by default. Without this feature, a major gap will remain in your privacy protection.

Turn on end-to-end encrypted backup, go to Settings – Chats – Chat Backup – End-to-end Encrypted Backup and tap Turn On. Following this create a password and wait for your encrypted backup.

Always check unknown links

These days, it could be difficult to determine whether certain scam messages and links are malicious.

Copy the link and check it on sites like Norton Safe Web, PhishTank, and others to prevent clicking on these. By developing this habit, you will stop clicking on harmful links.

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Innovating Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis – the Middle East and Africa Has a Key Role to Play

It’s eye-opening to consider that more than half (http://bit.ly/3tJNDfO) of the world’s best solar resources are in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). When you combine this vast untapped potential with a rapidly evolving renewable energy landscape, formidable people power from a growing youth population, and a thriving entrepreneurial scene, it’s clear that MEA has an increasingly important role to play in innovating towards a way out of the climate crisis.

There is a rousing incentive to act with urgency. Though MEA may have the lowest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, it’s the most vulnerable region to the effects of climate change, especially Africa. Home to many of the planet’s key suppliers of fossil fuels, the region is also pivotal in enabling the shift toward new sources of energy. Already, there is a huge focus from governments to invest in sustainability, and investment in clean energy from the UAE alone totals $40 billion (http://bit.ly/3Fgb7Q4).

But much work is still be done at a far greater scale and that work is dependent on three things: people, money and digital technology, and data.

It’s the cost-efficient and highly scalable nature of the cloud, for example, that enables energy startup, M-KOPA Solar, to manage the energy systems of half a million homes in East Africa, bringing affordable clean energy to around 2 million people.

Technology is paramount, not only to the shift towards renewable energy but to all aspects of climate adaptation. ”The climate crisis is taking a significant toll on the Middle East and Africa. But we live in a new technological era with the potential to power dramatic transformation across every sector of society. Digital solutions offer a way to progress towards a greener and ultimately more prosperous future. Together, we find ourselves at a historic intersection of tremendous opportunity,” says Sherif Tawfik, Chief Sustainability Officer, Microsoft Middle East, and Africa.

The exponential rate of technology adoption in the region will help drive this opportunity. Almost half of the business leaders say more than 50 percent of their assets are in the cloud, meaning powerful foundations are already in place to create solutions to MEA’s greatest climate change challenges.

The agriculture industry, for example, sustains 70 percent (http://bit.ly/3AWiolE) of livelihood in Africa but also accounts for almost 90 percent (http://bit.ly/3EPkhls) of all freshwater withdrawals. To conserve water while still preserving crop yields, farmers need to know exactly where and when to water fields and how much water they should use. Innovative tech solutions are needed to provide smallholder farms – particularly those in rural areas – with accurate data.

With Egypt as host of this year’s conference, the Egyptian government has been given a unique platform to voice the climate adaptation needs of countries in Africa and the broader

The Kenyan National Agriculture Platform is working with Microsoft to drive the digitalization of agriculture through an app called AgBot (http://bit.ly/3GWXDdk). The AgBot is a one-stop shop for half a million farmers where they can access services and information to increase their productivity. Further work is now being done on the app to incorporate data analysis for more informed decision-making.

Further north in the UAE, multinational corporations like Etihad Airways (http://bit.ly/3ONn2Ii) are using advanced analytics and AI to measure and benchmark their environmental footprints. The ability of businesses to measure their carbon emissions is essential to carbon reduction, but accuracy is extremely challenging because of large volumes of data that typically sits in silos. But the cloud helps by digitalizing processes to break down data silos and centralize data for better reporting, ultimately enabling companies like Etihad to implement carbon efficiency savings across their operations. The use of technology to help businesses report, record and reduce their environmental impact is essential as it’s big business that will ultimately tip the scales towards a net-zero future.

Implementing innovation at a greater scale

It’s clear enterprising organizations in MEA are already using technology for climate adaptation in exciting and impactful ways. But greater collaboration is needed to replicate these kinds of successes at scale. COP27 provides an opportunity for world leaders to come together and make it happen.

“With Egypt as host of this year’s conference, the Egyptian government has been given a unique platform to voice the climate adaptation needs of countries in Africa and the broader region,” comments Mirna Arif, Microsoft Egypt General Manager. “As a country and as a continent, it’s time be ambitious in our vision, not only of how we want to progress on our own sustainability journey, but also how we will contribute to the global fight against climate change.”

During the summit, we can expect to see bold initiatives and announcements from both the public and private sector as we strive to move beyond pledges to progress. For our own part, Microsoft will focus on both the technology and skills needed to drive broad-scale impact. This includes general access to quality local data, strategic collaborations with the public sector around the deployment of key sustainability solutions, and the development of critical skillsets needed to promote a green economy. At the beginning of November, we published our Sustainability Skills Gap report (http://bit.ly/3XIKTgv) highlighting the necessary skills needed to move beyond pledges to progress. It is now more important than ever that sustainability is considered at every level of our society and economy, and in order to do this, we will need the workforce to have the right skills.

These efforts will build on the work Microsoft has been doing for more than 30 years, empowering customers, partners, and governments across MEA to build digital capabilities. Tools and innovations like our data centers are empowering people and transforming the way organizations and industries operate. Now, we’re doubling down on our commitment to provide the technology needed for a more sustainable future.

“Given our role as an enabler of a diverse range of digital solutions, Microsoft has a unique responsibility to help governments and organizations to achieve their climate goals through the power of technology. We are committed to accelerating digital transformation in Africa, with a view to helping the continent realize its growing innovation potential in the climate technology space and beyond,” says Wael Elkabbany, General Manager, Microsoft Africa Regional Cluster.

As it stands, the Middle East and Africa can be likened to a sleeping giants with powerful potential to lead the world’s energy transition and build a greener future. Beyond the clear opportunity in renewable energy, there is much to be gained from the region’s track record of the invention. From water scarcity to food insecurity and lack of access to electricity, MEA’s problem-solving capabilities have long been put to the test. COP27 is an opportunity to share learnings with the rest of the world. The challenge ahead is daunting but, together, we can move faster.

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COP27: Wind power can deliver a sustainable future for Africa- Report

We are in the middle of a global energy crisis and a climate change emergency. It is, therefore, more pressing than ever to seriously commit to action plans that will avoid the long-term lock-in of fossil fuel-based energy generation. Instead, greater focus should be placed on increasing renewable contributions within the global energy mix.

This is particularly important for Africa has been more severely hit by climate-change-related events than other regions, and where 43% of the total population lack access to electricity, most of them in sub‐Saharan Africa. The continent is rich in renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, and decreasing costs are bringing renewables increasingly within reach, making energy independence achievable.

To attain a successful and just energy transition there needs to be an acceleration of the implementation process. This can happen if partnerships between public stakeholders, and public and private together, are further strengthened, and if steps are taken to safeguard the wind industry supply chain, among other proactive actions. If this is prioritized, then there should be sufficient capacity to help the continent achieve its climate pledges through the implementation of sustainable, renewable green energy.

Climate change is putting Africa’s energy systems at risk of disruption

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Africa Energy Outlook 2022, “three-fifths of the continent’s thermal power plants are at high, or very high risk of disruption by water stress, and one-sixth of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity is vulnerable to coastal flooding.” To ensure greater resilience there will need to be a significant investment in climate adaptation.

To mitigate the ongoing volatility in the supply and cost of fossil-fuel energy, and the dangers of accelerating climate change, African governments must focus on scaling up higher volumes of renewable energy – in particular wind power — as part of their sustainable energy mixes.

The photo-shoot shows different wind farms: KFW, JICA, FIEM, and BOO Ras Ghareb
The photo-shoot shows different wind farms: KFW, JICA, FIEM, and BOO Ras Ghareb

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) energy progress report of 2021 estimates that 75% of the world’s population without access to electricity is based in Sub-Saharan Africa. It states that to achieve sustainable development goal (SDG) 7.1 — universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services — Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need to connect approximately 85 million people each year through 2030.

Africa currently accounts for less than 3% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and it experiences a disproportionate number of negative effects of climate change. According to the IEA, by 2050, North Africa is facing a rise in median temperature of 2.7 degrees Celsius in comparison with the global average rise of 2 degrees Celsius. If not addressed, this could result is a reduction of African gross domestic product (GDP) by around 8 percent in 2050. In East Africa, this figure would be closer to 15 percent.

Wind power as a driver of socio-economic growth in Africa

By increasing renewable energy production targets, national economies stand to benefit from the growing demand for people to work in the green sectors thereby addressing the continent’s unemployment challenges. Nations can also expect augmented investment because of a more stable energy grid and due to cost savings realised by a more competitive energy mix.

The wind industry is of strategic importance. It can provide the world with energy security and independence through domestic, clean, and competitive sources. As different countries consider increasing the percentage of renewable energy in their energy mix, they can take insights from the lessons already learned in Africa and Europe. They can also see the tangible positive impact the wind industry has already had across both continents. These can be studied, and relevant insights applied within their specific environment.

The wind industry started in Northern Europe and Spain in the 1980s, and since then, has burgeoned across the continent. Today, the European Union’s wind energy sector has a significant impact on the EU’s economy, supporting more than 300,000 jobs, contributing €37 billion to the EU’s GDP, and generating €5 billion in local taxes every year. In fact, with each new wind turbine installed in Europe, a further €10 million of economic activity is added.

Progress is also being made across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, recording in 2021 its best year ever in wind power installations. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, over the next five years (2022 – 2026), MEA is expected to add a total of 14 GW of new wind capacity, primarily driven by growth from South Africa (5.4 GW), Egypt (2.2 GW), Morocco (1.8 GW), and Saudi Arabia (1.3 GW).

IRENA’s modeling reveals that when accompanied by the right policies, shifting towards a renewable energy system could lead to a 6.4% higher GDP, 3.5% more economy-wide jobs, and a 25.4% higher welfare index throughout the outlook period of 2020 to 2050.

Partnerships must drive Africa’s energy transition

Although blessed with abundant renewable sources, like wind and solar, as well as land availability, Africa is only tapping into 0.01% of its wind power potential. Unlocking the potential of wind and solar will also trigger the development of green hydrogen projects in the continent. This will enable the transferring of the benefits of renewables beyond the electricity sector, to achieve a fully decarbonized economy, while enabling energy export capacities.

Uncertainty on wind-enabling frameworks is jeopardizing the full potential that wind can play in accelerating the energy transition while providing clean and competitive energy security. Partnerships, both among public stakeholders as well as between the public and the private sector, can create stability and strengthen the wind energy sector and allow it to contribute to climate crisis mitigation efforts, continue innovating, and provide energy security across the continent.

According to the IEA Africa Energy Outlook report, “Achieving full access to modern energy in Africa by 2030 would require an investment of USD 25 billion per year – equal to around a quarter of total energy investment in Africa prior to the pandemic – but just slightly above 1% of total energy investment globally and comparable to the cost of just one large LNG terminal investment. Almost half of this investment would be in just five countries – DRC, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.”

When you consider that 46 of Africa’s 54 countries are classed as low-income or lower-middle-income according to the World Bank, it makes sense that for a successful transition to renewable energy to occur, partnerships are the most feasible way forward, as it would be difficult for governments, or the private sector to bear these costs alone.  The role of power pools in Africa and, thus, the collaboration between countries and regions, is essential to unleashing the full potential that wind can bring to combat climate change and bring prosperity based on a decarbonized economy. These partnerships can pave the way for a just energy transition enabling people coming from fossil-fuel-based energy sectors to be re-skilled and secure their rights and livelihoods in the shift to sustainable energy production.

While ambitious global political targets have been set, there is a significant mismatch between stated targets and actual wind capacity installation figures which are substantially lower. By accelerating the approval of wind power plant permits, governments could close the gap between the targets and actual production, improving energy independence and geopolitical stability, while alleviating the pressure that the wind supply chain suffers from due to a lack of projects.

Partnerships between governments and the wind industry are crucial in our fight against the climate crisis. To succeed in a just energy transition, governments must continue to attract international investment, and for that, they need to deliver visible project pipelines for wind energy installations, especially in the MEA region. This means investors require stable and predictable frameworks and a clear implementation pace so that manufacturers and suppliers can load existing factories and plan in advance for new capacities.

This would create greater stability in the industry and increase its ability to hire and upskill teams. While there will be challenges to overcome to ensure a just energy transition, wind power has the distinct ability to deliver sustainably for both people and the planet. By focusing on the development of cohesive and inclusive policies, streamlining permitting schemes, fostering multilateral renewable energy partnerships and trade agreements, and investing in the acceleration of renewable electricity grid construction, African governments can move closer to achieving more than just SDG7. In doing so, they could reap the socio-economic benefits that wind energy offers, while increasing their country’s energy security, and contributing to global efforts to combat climate change.

The COP27 Climate Change Conference taking place in Egypt in November 2022 provides a golden opportunity for global leaders to collaborate on workable solutions that will drive important climate change mitigation. The time to act is now.

 

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Agricultural Automation Can Boost Global Food Production- UN Report

A new U.N. report finds agricultural automation can boost global food production and be a boon for small-scale farmers in developing countries.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, has just released The State of Food and Agriculture 2022 report. The report’s authors said automation is rapidly changing the face of agriculture. New technologies, they say, are quickly leaving behind some of the old larger-type tractors and large machinery in ways that could benefit small holders in developing countries.

Parallels can be drawn with the introduction of cell phones. The World Bank, among other observers, notes that African and other developing countries can harness digital technologies to boost their economies by advancing from landlines to smartphones.

FAO said automation can play an important role in making food production more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Chief FAO economist Maximo Torero said many emerging technologies would have been unimaginable years ago. He cited as examples fruit-picking robots that use artificial intelligence and sensors that monitor plants and animals.

“Automation allows agriculture to be more productive, efficient, resilient, and sustainable and can improve working conditions,” Torero said. “However, as with any technological change, automation also implies disruption to the agricultural systems. The risk is that the automation could exacerbate inequalities if we are not careful on how it is being done and developed and deployed.”

FILE - A weeding robot is pictured during a demonstration of new technologies at the Arvalis farm, an applied agricultural research organization, on June 15, 2016, in Saint-Hilaire-en-Woevre, eastern France.
FILE – A weeding robot is pictured during a demonstration of new technologies at the Arvalis farm, an applied agricultural research organization, on June 15, 2016, in Saint-Hilaire-en-Woevre, eastern France.
The report looks at 27 case studies from all over the world. They represent technologies at different stages of readiness suitable for large or small agricultural producers of varying levels of income.

Torero said the report investigates the drivers of these technologies and identifies barriers preventing their adoption, particularly by small-scale producers. The report, he said, also looks at one of the most common concerns about automation — that it creates unemployment.

“While it concludes that such fears are overblown, it acknowledges that agricultural automation can lead to unemployment in places where rural labor is abundant, and wages are low,” he said. “It is important to understand that in a continent like sub-Saharan Africa, where there is an enormous amount of youth population, we can build the skill sets of these people to be able to have access to these technologies.”

In areas where cheap labor is abundant, the FAO urges policymakers to avoid subsidizing automation while creating an enabling environment for its adoption. At the same time, the report said governments should provide social protection to the least skilled workers who are likely to lose their jobs during the transition.

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Voice-Operated Smartphones Target Africa’s Illiterate

Voice-operated smartphones are aiming at a vast yet widely overlooked market in sub-Saharan Africa — the tens of millions of people who face huge challenges in life because they cannot read or write.

In Ivory Coast, a so-called “Superphone” using a vocal assistant that responds to commands in a local language is being pitched to the large segment of the population — as many as 40 percent — who are illiterate.

Developed and assembled locally, the phone is designed to make everyday tasks more accessible, from understanding a document and checking a bank balance to communicating with government agencies.

“I’ve just bought this phone for my parents back home in the village, who don’t know how to read or write,” said Floride Jogbe, a young woman who was impressed by adverts on social media.

She believed the 60,000 CFA francs ($92) she forked out was money well spent.

The smartphone uses an operating system called “Kone” that is unique to the Cerco company and covers 17 languages spoken in Ivory Coast, including Baoule, Bete, and Dioula, as well as 50 other African languages.

Cerco hopes to expand this to 1,000 languages, reaching half of the continent’s population, thanks to help from a network of 3,000 volunteers.

The goal is to address the “frustration” illiterate people feel with technology that requires them to be able to read or write or spell effectively, said Cerco president Alain Capo-Chichi, a Benin national.

“Various institutions set down the priority of making people literate before making technology available to them,” he told AFP.

“Our way skips reading and writing and goes straight to integrating people into economic and social life.”

Of the 750 million adults around the world who cannot read or write, 27 percent live south of the Sahara, according to UN figures for 2016, the latest year for which data is available.

The continent also hosts nearly 2,000 languages, some of which are spoken by tens of millions of people and are used for inter-ethnic communication, while others are dialects with a small geographical spread.

Lack of numbers or economic clout often means these languages are overlooked by developers who have already devised vocal assistants for languages in bigger markets.

People look at the 'Superphone' Cerco's showroom in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 25, 2022.
People look at the ‘Superphone’ Cerco’s showroom in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 25, 2022.
Twi and Kiswahili

Other companies investing in the voice-operation field in Africa include Mobobi, which has created a Twi language voice assistant in Ghana called Abena AI, while Mozilla is working on an assistant in Kiswahili, which has an estimated 100 million speakers in East Africa.

Telecommunications expert Jean-Marie Akepo questioned whether voice operation needed the platform of a dedicated mobile phone.

Existing technology “manages to satisfy people”, he said.

“With the voice message services offered by WhatsApp, for example, a large part of the problem has already been solved.”

Instead of a new phone, he recommended “software with local languages that could be installed on any smartphone”.

The Ivorian phone is being produced at the ICT and Biotechnology Village in Grand-Bassam, a free-trade zone located near the Ivorian capital.

It came about through close collaboration with the government. The company pays no taxes or customs duties and the assembly plant has benefited from a subsidy of more than two billion CFA francs.

In exchange, Cerco is to pay 3.5 percent of its income to the state and train around 1,200 young people each year.

The company says it has received 200,000 orders since its launch on July 21.

Thanks to a partnership with French telecommunications giant Orange, the phone will be distributed in 200 shops across Ivory Coast.

 

VOA

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Lesotho: Journalists must specialise in different areas -Minister

The Minister of Communications Science and Technology, Mr. Tšoinyane Rapapa says it is high time for journalists to specialise in different areas of journalism to be able to report with understanding.

He said this when officially opening the two-day workshop on African Peer Review Mechanism (APMR) Media Training, a collaboration of APRM Continental Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Lesotho on Monday.

Mr. Rapapa noted that this training will go a long way towards cementing cordial relations between Lesotho and Ethiopia, saying the training will further serve as a network of Communication for disseminating APRM reports and publications while also creating awareness, informing, and educating the media about APRM processes.

He mentioned that Lesotho became the 12th African Union (AU) member state to voluntarily join APRM in July 2004 following its inception in 2003, noting that Lesotho like other member states view APRM as indeed Africa’s premier governance self-assessment and promotion tool towards enhancing economic development, participatory democracy, peace and eternal tranquillity.

Lesotho became the 12th African Union (AU) member state to voluntarily join APRM in July 2004 following its inception in 2003

He stressed that Lesotho was reviewed in 2009 and some of the lessons learned included the fact that priority needs to be given to the technical details in setting up the structures of APRM in countries submitting reviews, mobilization of resources, and the technical autonomous body to reduce delays in the assessment process amongst other things.

Also speaking, the National Director of MISA Lesotho, Mr. Ntsukunyane Lekhetho said the objectives of the media training are to sensitise and equip the media fraternity with requisite information on the APRM process in Lesotho.

He added that it is aimed at encouraging sustained consistent reporting and coverage of the APRM process by developing a national media strategy.

Again, the training is intended to establish a network of communicators to disseminate APRM reports and publications.

On the same token, Acting Chief of Staff, APRM Continental Secretariat, Adv. Batlokoa Makong said the primary purpose of APRM is to foster the adoption of policies, standards, and practices leading to stability, high economic growth, and sustainable development.

The inaugural meeting of the APRM of the communicators’ network was held in May 2019 in South Africa. It is against this backdrop that the APRM hosts the 1st media training on the 27th and 28th of June in Maseru Lesotho.

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OIL & GAS: Europe should Decarbonize while Africa Industrializes

While western nations are calling for the abrupt end to fossil fuel utilization in Africa, countries such as the UK and Norway continue to hold licensing rounds intended to scale-up exploration and production. With Africa’s socioeconomic development hinging on the exploitation of the continent’s oil and gas resources, this hypocrisy could spell a travesty for Africa. As western organizations such as Greenpeace move to end African hydrocarbon investment in the name of climate change, shouldn’t European nations move to decarbonize first?

Europe is well-positioned to decarbonize its high-emitting sectors, owing to the availability of the required technologies; the regulatory frameworks in place; and the financial and economic capacity to do so. Having utilized ‘dirty’ fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for decades, the continent has been able to develop its economies substantially. According to the Eurostat, the EU operates a single market made up of 27 countries; total GDP in 2019 equated to €16.4 trillion; the EU accounted for 15% of the world’s trade in goods, and economic growth is projected to increase by 4% in 2022 and 2.8% in 2023. However, countries in the EU are also responsible for approximately 18% of global carbon dioxide emissions produced since the industrial revolution began. In the third quarter of 2021 alone, the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions t 881 otaledmillion tons of CO² equivalent. Yet, these nations continue to call for the end of African oil and gas development, despite holding licensing rounds to develop their own oil and gas.

On the contrary, despite holding some of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal reserves – estimated at 125.3 billion barrels of crude oil, 620 trillion cubic feet of gas and nearly 16.4 billion short tons of coal -, Africa’s development has been slow, largely due to natural resource exports, refined product imports, the lack of adequate infrastructure and the lack of adequate investment and reinvestment in key sectors. Representing the world’s fastest growing population; the youngest population; and holding some of the world’s fastest growing economies, Africa has the chance to accelerate development across its entire economy, driven by the exploration, production and utilization of its oil and gas reserves.

Having utilized ‘dirty’ fuels such as coal, oil and gas for decades, the continent has been able to develop its economies substantially

Oil and gas will enable Africa to improve access to energy and lift the over 600 million people across the continent out of energy poverty; significantly reduce the continent’s dependence on energy imports; and provide the much-needed revenue which African governments can utilize to fund infrastructure rollout in various sectors including energy, mining, transportation and health which are vital for economic stability.

African hydrocarbon producers should follow in the footsteps of European counterparts including Norway and Britain who have and continue to introduce new exploration licensing rounds to make it easier to drill and to expand production capacity. In January 2022, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy awarded 53 production licenses in mature oil and gas producing areas in a bid to remain western Europe’s largest hydrocarbon producer whilst the British government in its latest Energy Security Strategy announced that it will award licenses for the increased drilling of oil and gas in the North Sea. This is what Africa needs to do: increase its exploration licensing rounds and the use of domestic hydrocarbons resources to end energy poverty rather than leaving these resources in the ground.

Countries across the continent have already made progress in this area with the introduction of licensing rounds in 2020 and 2021. According to the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) Q1 2022 Outlook, the results of some 14 licensing rounds are expected to be announced this year while other rounds in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Algeria, the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya are expected to be introduced in 2022 and 2023. Despite this progress, more needs to be done. While the introduction of licensing rounds is critical, implementation and execution is often slow and deters investors. In this regard, Africa needs to take a lesson from Europe, fast tracking these rounds and approvals so that the development of oil and gas can be accelerated.

“For years Africa has been told to stop using its oil and gas resources, even if those very resources are the solution to making energy poverty history. Now, faced with their own energy security crisis, Europe is pushing for new oil and gas licensing rounds to increase exploration, production and oil and gas utilization. How is it that Africa must decarbonize while Europe continues to industrialize? It seems that the saying do as I say and not as I do is clear, even in the energy space. But Africa will not do as they say. We deserve to develop our oil and gas to make energy poverty history. In 2022, Africa needs to ramp up its licensing rounds, drive exploration and position itself as the primary supplier for domestic and global markets,” Leoncio Amada Nze, President of African Energy Chamber CEMAC.

African Energy Week (AEW) 2022, Africa’s premier event for the oil and gas sector, which will take place from 18 – 21 October 2022 in Cape Town, remains committed to ensuring Africa develops and benefits from its oil and gas resources. Under the theme “Exploring and Investing in Africa’s Energy Future while Driving an Enabling Environment,” and through a series of panel discussions, investor forums and networking events, AEW 2022 represents the most suitable platform for driving project partnerships and investment deals while kickstarting both Europe’s decarbonization and Africa’s industrialization in 2022 and beyond.

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AfricaAfrica AsiaEducationScienceTechTechnology

U.S. Consulate Supports Mentorship Program for Young Women and Girls

The U.S. government is committed to supporting the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by connecting them with networks and opportunities needed to advance their careers and dreams in tech fields.

On Thursday, the TechWomen Alumni Association of Nigeria held the closing ceremony of a U.S. Consulate-supported TechWomen Nigeria Mentorship Project for emerging female leaders in STEM fields.

For six weeks, 10 mentees aged 18-30 were paired with 10 women leaders in STEM. The mentees shadowed their mentors at leading technology and STEM-related companies in Lagos, including Intel and Microsoft, and attended capacity building workshops with their peers.

The closing event celebrated the graduation of the participants, who in turn shared their experiences and highlighted how partaking in the program helped them to refine their skills and boosted their confidence to advance in their various careers.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the project in Lagos, U.S. Consul General Claire Pierangelo congratulated the young female STEM professionals on completing the mentorship program.

Pierangelo highlighted the importance of expanding young women’s networks in STEM fields, encouraging them to pursue tech careers and ensuring the sustainability of the mentor-mentee model in Nigeria.

The U.S. government is committed to advancing the rights and participation of women and girls in the STEM fields

“I am happy to see that our TechWomen Nigeria alumni have taken steps to replicate their exchange experience by providing mentoring opportunities for young women in STEM in their local communities,” Pierangelo said.

“The U.S. government is committed to advancing the rights and participation of women and girls in the STEM fields, by enabling them to reach their full potential in the tech industry. The TechWomen and TechGirls programs are perfect examples of this commitment.”

Country Account Executive for West Africa at Intel Corporation, Rita Amuchienwa, served as a mentor during the project. She described the benefits of the mentor-mentee model initiated by the TechWomen Nigeria Alumni Association

“Young women in tech can particularly benefit from mentoring as a means to build confidence, enhance skills, and set achievable career goals,” Amuchienwa said.

One of the mentees, Rofiat Korodo, explained that her participation in the mentorship program has strengthened her capacity, expanded her professional networks and exposed her to top female role models in her field.

“It has been an awesome experience. My mentor provided me insights into specific professional situations, negotiation tactics, opportunities and career path goals. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this mentorship program,” Korodo added.

TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It strengthens participants’ professional capacity, increases mutual understanding between key professionals, and expands young women’s interest in STEM careers by exposing them to female role models.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, 45 Nigerian women in STEM have participated in a unique five-week mentorship program to increase their specialized proficiencies, connect with valuable mentors and build a professional network of like-minded women.

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World

Meta launches Reels on Facebook across sub-Saharan Africa

Today, Meta (about.facebook.com/Meta) is expanding the availability of  Facebook Reels (https://bit.ly/3p8lc9w) for iOS and Android to more than 20 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Meta is also introducing better ways to help creators to earn money, new creative tools and more places to watch and create Facebook Reels.

Prior to this launch Reels was available on Facebook in India, Mexico, Canada, the U.S, and is now available across sub-Saharan Africa in: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland, South Africa, Seychelles, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Mali, Malawi, Lesotho, Kenya, Guinea, Ghana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Burkina Faso.

Commenting on the launch Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa at Meta says, “We’ve seen that video now accounts for almost all of the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, and Reels is our fastest-growing content format by far. This is why we’re focused on making Reels the best way for creators to get discovered, connect with their audience, and earn money. We also want to make it fun and easy for people to find and share relevant and entertaining content.”

Meta is also creating a variety of opportunities for creators to earn money for their reels. The Reels Play bonus program (bit.ly/3BI6L0W), part of Meta’s $1 billion creator investment (bit.ly/3t2u0ie), pays eligible creators up to $35,000 a month based on the views of their qualifying reels. In the coming months, the bonus program will be extended to more countries, so more creators can get rewarded for creating reels that their communities love.

As part of the launch Meta is also launching brand suitability controls, including Publisher Lists, Blocklists, Inventory Filters and Delivery Reports for Banner and Sticker Ads in Facebook Reels in every region they are available, giving advertisers more control over how their ads appear in places they don’t consider suitable for their brand or campaign. Additionally, Meta has been testing full-screen and immersive ads in between Facebook Reels since October of last year, and will roll them out to more places around the world over the coming months. Just like with organic content on Facebook, people can comment, like, view, save, share and skip them.

Meta has been testing full-screen and immersive ads in between Facebook Reels since October of last year, and will roll them out to more places around the world over coming months

More Editing Features

In addition to the features (https://bit.ly/3BLbBuu) announced last year, creators around the world will be able to access:

  • Remix: Create your own reel alongside an existing, publicly-shared reel on Facebook. When you create a Remix, you can create a reel that includes all or part of another creator’s reel.
  • 60-second Reels: Make reels up to 60 seconds long.
  • Drafts: You will soon be able to create a reel and choose to “Save As Draft” below the Save button.
  • Video Clipping: In the coming months, we’re planning to roll out video clipping tools that will make it easier for creators who publish live or long-form, recorded videos to test different formats.

 

Create and Discover Reels in New Places

Over the coming weeks, the following updates will be rolled out to make it easier to create and discover reels in new places:

  • Reels in Stories: You can share public reels to Stories on Facebook, making it easy to share favourite reels with friends and giving creators more visibility and reach. You’ll also be able to create reels from existing public stories.
  • Reels in Watch: You’ll be able to watch reels directly within the Watch tab and we’re developing tools to help you create reels in the Watch tab as well.
  • Top of Feed: We’re adding a new Reels label at the top of Feed so you’ll be able to easily create and watch reels in just a few clicks.
  • Suggested Reels in Feed: In select countries, we’re starting to suggest reels that you may like in your Feed from people you do not already follow.

 

Meta is also exploring ways to make it easier for creators to share Reels to both their Facebook and Instagram audiences, such as cross posting.

You can find Facebook Reels in Feed, Groups and Watch. When viewing a reel, you can follow the creator directly from the video, like and comment on it or share it with friends.

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