Royal Philips is continuing its programme of installing more than a hundred “Community Light Centers” across Africa with the announcement of six new centres in South Africa.
CEO of Philips, Mr Frans van Houten was recently in Cape Town to co-chair the World Economic Forum. During his visit Mr van Houten met with the South African Minister of Energy Ms Dipuo Peters, in order to conclude an agreement that sees Philips donating two Community Light Centres to the South African Department of Energy. The two Centres will be allocated to communities that would benefit from the Solar LED lighting. These would usually be rural communities lacking access to electricity. The meeting took place in the Cape Town suburb, Walmer Estate, where an additional Community Light Centre has been erected by Philips at a local football club (pictured above.)
In addition to these three centres, Philips, in partnership with SuperSport Let’s Play and Hitachi Construction Machinery Southern Africa Co, has recently completed projects at Dumisa Public School near Ladysmith, Lebowa Kgomo in Mpumalanga and in Gauteng at the Lion Park Primary School.
The Light Centres are areas of approximately 1000m2, or the size of a small soccer pitch and are lit using a new generation of efficient solar powered LED lighting. The Light Centres create areas of light for rural communities which live without electricity, thus effectively ‘extending the day and extending play’ creating numerous opportunities for social, sporting and economic activities in the evening. Philips has committed an investment of €1.2 million (spread over three years) to this project.
The Light Centres are predominantly focused on schools which are closely linked to rural areas and towns in off-grid or semi-grid areas. They provide light for communal areas which can be used for sport and many other activities - healthcare, education, social, and commerce - and extend the day by enabling communal life after dark.
“Africa is starting a new reliable solar powered LED lighting revolution which will both save energy and provide more light for those without electricity” says Mr Andre Dehmel GM Philips Lighting Africa. “Dramatic advances are being made in the efficiency of LED lighting and this is going to speed up social and economic development across the continent.”
Gordon Institute of Business Science number one African business school
The annual UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings, a global benchmark for providers of executive education has once again ranked the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) as the top South African and African business school for 2013.
Business schools are asked for details of a number of top clients, who are then invited to complete an online survey about the school that nominated them. For GIBS, top clients comprising not only leading SA corporates but top multinationals operating in the rest of Africa and abroad participated in the survey.
Professor Nick Binedell, dean of GIBS, said, “We are pleased to have again been ranked in line with prestigious business schools across the world. This year it is encouraging to see another South African school ranking in the world’s top fifty; we congratulate Stellenbosch Business School on this achievement.”
EU pledges $675 million toward Mali reconstruction
On the eve of a major international donors’ conference, the European Union announced Tuesday it was pledging 520 million euros ($674.8 million) over the next two years to help rebuild the west African country of Mali as a functioning state.
The announcement was made by Jose Manuel Barroso (pictured above, right,) president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, who said the investment would benefit Europe as well as Africa.
Physically challenged athlete sets new African javelin record
When Reinhardt Hamman, who is now a guest relations officer at The Vineyard Hotel & Spa in Newlands, Cape Town, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of five, he could not have imagined he would grow up to become a sporting star, breaking records and winning gold medals.
This month Hamman, now 23, broke the African record for javelin of 43.37m in the F37 class by throwing 44.93m in the annual Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Challenged. This performance secured a gold medal that he added to the gold he earned for shot-put and a silver for discus.
Somalis may soon be receiving letters from abroad for the first time in more than 20 years after a deal was struck with the United Nations’ postal agency, the latest step towards ending Somalia’s isolation following two decades of civil conflict.
The Swiss-based UPU said in a statement on Friday that international postal services could start operating again in Somalia within the next few months.
Somalia’s Minister of Information and Communication Abdullahi Hirsi signed a memorandum of understanding with Emirates Post Group this week for Dubai to act as a hub for handling mail destined for Somalia, it said.
The UPU, which brokered the deal, said its 192 member countries could resume sending mail to Somalia once the arrangements were finalized.
About 2 million Somalis live abroad and 9.9 million in Somalia, served by a postal network that is “basically inexistant”, the UPU said, having dwindled from 100 post offices in 1991.
UPU spokesman Rheal LeBlanc said Somalia had created an office at the airport to handle mail moving in and out of the country, initially to service the government, embassies and universities, “but they seem to have plans to phase in postal services across the country over the next few months and years”.
Hirsi said his country would need help getting the post going again.
“We ask for all means of assistance as we have to start from ground zero,” the UPU statement quoted him as saying.
In Kenya, technology revolutionizes TB management
The use of technology is revolutionizing the way Kenya manages tuberculosis (TB). Through a computer- and mobile-phone based programme called TIBU, health facilities are able to request TB drugs in real-time and manage TB patient data more effectively, health officials say. They also use the platform to carry out health education.
“One of the challenges we have had with TB treatment is people defaulting [on treatment], but this will reduce significantly because through TIBU we will be able to track down patient treatment progress,” Joseph Sitienei, head of the Division of Leprosy, TB and Lung Disease at Kenya’s National AIDS Control Programme, told IRIN.
“By being able to track a patient, the health workers can send them reminders on their mobile phones when they fail to appear for drug refills,” Sitienei added.
UN-backed partnership helps Kenyans protect forests, improve livelihoods
A United Nations-backed project in Kenya is protecting forests and wildlife, as well as providing alternative livelihoods, and offers valuable lessons on how governments and the private sector can successfully work together for the betterment of communities and the environment.
The project is run through the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which seeks to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions and invest in low-carbon technologies to sustainable development.
The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project is protecting 200,000 hectares – 500,000 acres – of dryland forest in south-eastern Kenya in a vital wildlife and biodiversity corridor between two national parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West.
Nearly 150,000 rural Kenyans are benefitting from the distribution of revenues from the sale of the carbon offsets in the project, which is carried out with private sector partner Wildlife Works.
“The fundamental purpose of Wildlife Works is to take the pressure off natural resources, particularly forest-based resources, by creating an environment of alternative livelihoods,” said Bryan Adkins of the Kasigau REDD+ Project.
“It’s a social enterprise, which means that it puts the value of community input and community involvement at the forefront of its mission,” he added.
African nations strive to stem desertification with a ‘Great Green Wall’
Stretching from Dakar to Djibouti, a United Nations-backed programme dubbed the ‘Great Green Wall’ brings together 11 countries to plant trees across Africa to literally hold back the Sahara desert with a swathe of greenery, lessen the effects of desertification and improve the lives and livelihoods of communities.
The Wall, an initiative spearheaded by African heads of State, will stretch about 7,000 kilometres from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east and will be about 15 kilometres wide as it traverses the continent, passing through Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The programme aims to support the efforts of local communities in the sustainable management and use of forests – a key theme of the tenth session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF10), currently taking place in Istanbul – as well as other natural resources in drylands.
Among other things, the planting of trees is expected to provide a barrier against desert winds and will help to hold moisture in the air and soil, allowing agriculture to flourish. It is also expected that the Wall will reduce erosion, enhance biodiversity and improve countries’ resilience to climate change.
Investing R12 million in Black entrepreneurs – apply today!
Investec and Raizcorp have partnered to provide business support and development, to the value of R12 million, to 12 entrepreneurs. This exciting new partnership will enable entrepreneurs of black-owned businesses to take part in a two-year long programme that facilitates increased profitability in their respective businesses.
The innovative Raizcorp ACUMEN enterprise expansion programme is designed for ambitious and tenacious entrepreneurs to take their business Acumen to the next level through an incredible curriculum of entrepreneurial learning and mentorship support.
Commenting on the partnership, Investec CEO Stephen Koseff said: “Entrepreneurship has always been integral to Investec’s culture and is embodied within our core values and philosophies, how we conduct ourselves and the activities in which we engage. Investec has always supported entrepreneurs, realizing the importance of the role they play in our economy. The partnership with Raizcorp is aligned with our strategy to support and develop small business owners with high growth potential.”
The 12 deserving entrepreneurs selected for the programme will be assigned a dedicated team of five trained Raizcorp guides, who will focus on key areas from strategy, finance and marketing to sales and personal development. Profitability is said to increase substantially for 95% of participating businesses, over a period of two years.
To add to the ambition, entrepreneurs and their staff will have access to Raizcorp Learning, one of the incubator’s core offerings, consisting of courses and workshops tailored to the unique needs of entrepreneurs
- How to apply
Applications are open for entrepreneurs who are active full time in their 51% or more black-owned business. The business must have been trading for at least 12 months and have an average turnover of at least R50 000 per month.
Those interested in applying must complete an online expression of interest before Friday 03 May 2013. The expression of interest form is available at www.raizcorp.com.
For more information, contact Raizcorp on 011 566 2000 or email Andisa Ngqwebo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Unique African marathon offers hope to street children
There’s something stirring in Makeni. Here, in Sierra Leone’s largest city, thousands of street children are now being reunited with their families and given access to education.
This welcome change is all thanks to a small, voluntary-led charity, Street Child, and the runners who are brave enough to take on the charity’s challenging but hugely rewarding fundraising event, the Kiln Sierra Leone Marathon, now in its second year.
“I’m not aware of another marathon like it,” says race director, Lewis Aldridge. “The London Marathon is a fabulous race, with a lot of people raising money for different charities. But here it is totally integrated, with runners seeing the projects – and the children who will benefit from their fundraising – first-hand, before they run.”
The majority of this 26-mile course runs along hard mud roads and red dirt tracks, snaking through some of Sierra Leone’s most beautiful scenery. Occasionally, the trail changes to tarred, urban terrain as runners course their way through the more developed parts of Makeni in humid 33C heat. Local families line the roads to wave runners on – sometimes they’ll join in to show their thanks and support.
“It’s a fantastic challenge. The race itself is a personal challenge, but what really makes a difference is that most of the people taking part, everybody involved in it, are all raising money for the same charity,” adds Aldridge.
Scientists have unearthed a 600-year-old Chinese coin on the Kenyan island of Manda that shows trade existed between China and east Africa decades before European explorers set sail and changed the map of the world. (Credit: John Weinstein/The Field Museum)
A sundial discovered outside a tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings may be the world’s oldest ancient Egyptian sundials, say scientists.
Dating to the 19th dynasty, or the 13th century B.C., the sundial was found on the floor of a workman’s hut, in the Valley of the Kings, the burial place of rulers from Egypt’s New Kingdom period (around 1550 B.C. to 1070 B.C.).
“The significance of this piece is that it is roughly one thousand years older than what was generally accepted as time when this type of time measuring device was used,” said researcher Susanne Bickel, of the University of Basel in Switzerland. Past sundial discoveries date to the Greco-Roman period, which lasted from about 332 B.C. to A.D. 395.
PICTURED ABOVE: Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein (L) talks to his South Sudan counterpart John Kong Nyuon (R), with former South African President Thabo Mbeki (C) in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, March 8, 2013.
Sudan, South Sudan to withdraw forces from buffer zone
Sudan and South Sudan agreed on Friday to order their forces out of a demilitarized border zone within a week, a mediator said, possibly opening the way to the resumption of oil exports from the south.
South Sudan seceded from the north in 2011 after decades of war but border disputes and disagreements over oil pipeline fees have dragged on, delaying much-needed economic development.
The landlocked South shut down its oil production of 350,000 barrels per day more than a year ago during a row over how much it should pay the north to pipe its crude to a coastal terminal for export.
With oil the lifeline of both economies, the move has strained their state budgets, weakened currencies, stoked inflation and worsened economic hardship.
Defense ministers from both sides met on Friday for a new round of talks in Addis Ababa to set up a buffer zone along their frontier.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who chairs an African Union mediation panel, said the two had agreed to order their forces out of the demilitarized zone by March 14.
“D-day is March 10. The agreement calls for immediate orders(for withdrawal) to be issued within d-day plus four days,” he told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital.
The two countries will finish withdrawing their troops from the demilitarized zone by April 5, according to a timetable agreed by both sides seen by Reuters.
The former civil war foes have made a number of agreements about border security in the past, but have failed to implement them.
After teetering on the brink of full-scale conflict in April with the worst border clashes since their split, the two countries agreed in September to set up a buffer zone, which could defuse tensions enough for the South to resume oil output.
But neither side had pulled its army back from the almost 2,000-km (1,200-mile) border due to the mistrust left over from one of Africa’s longest civil wars.
Friday’s talks were the first in nearly two months. Two meetings between Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir in Addis Ababa in January failed to break the stalemate.
Animosity runs high between Bashir’s government in Khartoum and his former foes up the Nile in Juba.
Nearly 2 million people died in the north-south civil war, which left South Sudan economically devastated and awash with guns.
Khartoum accuses Juba of backing rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, two Sudan states bordering the South.
The SPLM-North, made up of fighters who sided with the South during the civil war, controls part of the Sudan side of the border, which complicates setting up the buffer zone.
South Sudan has denied supporting the rebels.
African leaders signed a U.N.-mediated deal on Sunday aimed at ending two decades of conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and paving the way for the deployment of a new military brigade to take on rebel groups.
Congo’s army is fighting the M23 rebels, who have hived off a fiefdom in North Kivu province in a conflict that has dragged Congo’s eastern region back into war and displaced more than half a million people.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who witnessed the signing in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, said he hoped the accord would bring “an era of peace and stability” for Congo and Africa’s Great Lakes, and added that he would soon name a special envoy for the region.
The Great Lakes area, where colonial era borders cut through ethnic groups has in the last 20 years been a crucible of conflict that has launched multiple uprisings and invasions.
“It is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach that will require sustained engagement,” Ban said of the accord, which did not include any representatives of rebel groups.
The agreement was signed by leaders and envoys of 11 African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda, which have been accused by U.N. experts of stoking the rebellion. They deny the accusation.
Speaking after the signing, Ugandan Vice President Edward Ssekandi said the deal could speed up the deployment of a new, U.N.-flagged intervention force to take on the rebels.
“We should be able to fast-track the ongoing consultation so that the force with a robust mandate and capability is put in place,” he said.
African leaders failed to sign the deal last month after a disagreement over who would command the force.
A fresh rebellion launched in May 2012 by the M23 group has brought more fighting and displacement to eastern Congo. In November the rebels seized the provincial capital Goma, but left the city to open the way for peace talks, which are being held in neighboring Uganda.
Those separate talks between Congo’s government and the rebels are aimed at reaching an agreement on a range of economic, political and security issues, including amnesty for “war and insurgency acts”, the release of political prisoners and reparation of damages due to the war.
But the rebels have broadened their goals to include the removal of Kabila and “liberation” of the entire Congo.
Bertrand Bisimwa, M23’s spokesman said he had not read the full details of the Addis Ababa deal, but hoped it would not reignite fighting between them and government troops.
“What I can say is that if they are choosing the way of peace we are fine with that, but if they are choosing to continue the war then we’re against,” he told Reuters.
Uganda’s Ssekandi said the talks in Kampala were now focused on security and that their discussions were so far positive.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila said the talks with rebels would continue, but there was little time left before a March 15 deadline to complete them.
“What we have done in Addis is just a diplomatic measure. The discussions in Kampala will continue but we need to pay attention to the fact that we do not have a lot of time,” Kabila told a news conference in after signing the deal.
Successive cross-border conflicts have killed and uprooted millions in the Congo basin since the colonial era, driven by political and ethnic divisions and competition for vast mineral resources like gold, tin, tungsten and coltan - a precious metal used to make mobile phones.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said Sunday’s deal should not be taken as an end in itself, but as part of continuing peace process.
“At the heart of our efforts, we have to keep in mind the rights, interests and aspirations of the afflicted populations, caught up in the recurring waves of violence,” he said.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, welcomed the agreement and called on the Congo government to build on the deal to restore authority in the east.
In an apparent reference to the role of Rwanda and Uganda, Rice said: “It is equally imperative that the DRC’s neighbors respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity by preventing external support to armed groups, which is a violation of international obligations.”
Theodore Trefon, a regional analyst and author of the book Congo Masquerade, said he believed the Addis agreement and the stalled peace talks in Kampala had failed to look for long-term solutions or tackle underlying grievances which had stoked violence in the region.
“You’re not going to be able to impose peace from above or the outside on people who don’t want peace. Lots of local actors have hidden agendas,” he told Reuters from Brussels.
Joyce Banda, Malawi President, Auctions Jet To Feed Poor
In her latest effort to improve relations with donors, Malawi’s president has decided to auction off her 14-seat jet and use the funds to help the poor.
Joyce Banda, Africa’s second female president, has never step foot onto the presidential jet that her predecessor bought –- a decadent purchase that outraged donors enough to cut back significantly on their funding, the BBC reports. Now, Banda is auctioning the jet, which cost about $13.3 million five years ago, and will use the proceeds to provide basic needs for her constituents who need it most.
Since inheriting an economy that “almost collapsed” when former President Bingu wa Mutharika suddenly died in April, Banda has been working to repair relations with key donors, including the International Monetary Fund, Business Day Live reports. She’s taken a number of austerity measures to improve the economy, but is also standing in solidarity with her citizens to show that she empathizes with their struggles.
For example, Banda cut her salary by 30 percent back in October, taking her income down to $42,000.
“It is a very low salary, but most Malawians are getting just as little as that,” Banda told Business Day Live. “So that’s fine, we have a nation to build. Perhaps the next president will get better than that.”
Banda has advocated on behalf of the poor long before taking on the role of president.
In the 90s, Banda started the National Association for Business Women an organization that lends start-up cash for small-scale businesses and encouraged the Hunger Project in New York to establish an outlet in Malawi, according to the Malawi government website. She also established the Joyce Banda Foundation, which provides a number of critical services, including education for orphans and support for female entrepreneurs.