Posts tagged as: access

NGOs Coalition Lobby for Increased Budget for Justice Ministry

By Innocent Habonimana

OAG, ACJB and Cordaid team up to advocate the increase of the budget allotted to the Ministry of Justice. Basing their conclusion on the analysis of the 2016 budget, the NGOs say low budget has a negative impact on the access to justice for all.

After an analysis that has shown the insufficiency of the budget of the Justice Ministry with repercussions on the access to justice for all, three NGOs advocate increasing the budget.

Michel Masabo, a consultant who carried out the analysis of the budget of 2016, says “there are some budget lines showing the government’s preoccupation of people’s needs for justice”, but “the effort remains insufficient”.

As a consequence, judges are hindered to carry out their duty as they should. Godefroid Manirambona, the Chairman of Observatory of Government’s Action (OAG) says, with the increase of the budget, “judges will have means that will allow them to adequately satisfy the needs of citizens seeking justice”.

OAG, a local NGO that sees that the government is fulfilling its promises, collaborated with the Association of Burundi Catholic Lawyers (ACJB) and Cordaid on the “Analysis of the Budget of the Ministry of Justice for 2016”.

The activity is within the framework of their programme called “Strategic Partnership in Lobbying and Advocacy for the Access to Justice for All”.

The study highlighted the lack of enough qualified judges and the slow course of justice as consequences of the low budget.

For instance, Bujumbura Court of Appeal, that has the highest average of sentence execution, treated a monthly average of 99.6 cases but executed only 10.7.

The Courts of Appeal of Bururi and Ngozi provinces treated respective monthly averages of 33.5 and 72.66 but executed none.

In some cases, the lack of means of transport hinders the execution of judgments. This may cause judges to make parties involved in legal cases pay for the transport which can result in corruption.

In regard to protecting judges from being influenced, Masabo says, “one way to prevent them from being corrupted is to raise their pay”.


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Renewable Energy Developers, Entrepreneurs Stand to Win Big

Rwandan entrepreneurs and developers in renewable energy have just a week to submit their applications for ACF 2017 competition and stand a chance to win $7 million (about Rwf5.9 billion) in funding. The deadline for application is May 12.

According to a statement from the organisers, ACF competition is a financial support mechanism designed to provide local developers and entrepreneurs with the technical expertise and funding required to implement their renewable energy projects.

It is organised and supported by Access Power, a developer, owner and operator of power projects in Africa and Asia, and EREN RE, a renewable energy firm. This is the third edition of the contest.

The winners of ACF 2017 will be announced on June 7 during the Africa Energy Forum in Copenhagen, the statement said, and the top three finalists will subsequently enter into joint development agreement discussions with Access Power.

“Once these are successfully concluded, Access Power will take an equity stake in the projects and commence independently funding their third-party development costs, such as feasibility studies, grid studies, environmental and social impact assessments and due diligence fees,” Reda El Chaar, the Access Power executive chairman, said.

He added that Africa’s renewable energy industry has huge potential, which requires ‘capable’ entrepreneurs to take the sector to another level. He noted that the competition is one of the ways to support renewable energy projects and provide them “with a fast route to the market, no matter the location.”

“Last year’s ACF set the bar high as we received nearly 100 submissions from over 25 countries across the full spectrum of renewable technologies, a 75 per cent increase on the previous edition. We encourage all renewable energy entrepreneurs to submit their projects for a chance to partner with us, and join efforts geared at strengthening Africa’s energy revolution,” Chaar said.

The ACF 2017 application forms and guidelines are available on:


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Nigeria: Despite Recession, Banking Sector Loans to Customers Rise to N16.372 Trillion

By Obinna Chima and Chineme Okafor

The audited results of 2016 for 14 banks quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) have shown a 22 per cent increase in total loans and advances to their customers from N13.315 trillion in 2015, to N16.372 trillion in the year under review.

The financial results of the banks reviewed by THISDAY showed deliberate efforts by the banks, mostly to support operators in the real sector of the economy.

Similarly, the total profit after tax (PAT) of the 14 banks rose marginally to N452 billion in 2016, up from the N442.451 billion recorded the previous year; just as their total gross earnings climbed to N4.007 trillion in the reviewed year, as against the N3.441 trillion recorded in 2015.

The banks’ results reviewed were Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank, FBN Holdings, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank, Unity Bank, Wema Bank and Union Bank.

Others included Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Diamond Bank and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI).

But one of the listed banks, Skye Bank, had notified the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) that its results would be released next week.

A breakdown of the figures, however, showed that while FBN Holdings’ loans and advances increased to N2.084 trillion in the reviewed year, up from N1.817 trillion the previous year; Zenith Bank Plc’s financial statement also showed the bank gave out N2.289 trillion as loans and advances to its customers, compared with the N1.989 trillion recorded the previous year.

Similarly, while UBA loaned customers N1.505 trillion in 2016, up from N1.037 trillion the previous year; Access Bank recorded N1.809 trillion in 2016, from N1.368 trillion in 2015; GT Bank recorded N1.589 trillion in 2016, up from N1.372 trillion in 2015; ETI also posted N2.824 trillion in 2016, from N2.232 trillion in 2015; Diamond Bank Plc also posted N995.334 billion as customer loans and advances in 2016, up from N763.635 billion the previous year, while Fidelity Bank also posted customer loans and advances of N718 billion in 2016, higher than the N578 billion it gave out in the previous year.

In terms of profit after tax, the breakdown also showed that while GT Bank recorded N132.281 billion in 2016, higher than the N99.437 billion posted the previous year; Zenith Bank earned PAT of N129.652 billion in 2016, from N105.663 billion in the previous year; UBA’s PAT was N72.264 billion in 2016, from N59.654 billion the previous year; Access Bank’s PAT increased to N71.439 billion in 2016, from N65.869 billion; while FBN Holdings’ posted PAT of N17.141 billion, from N15.539 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently affirmed that Nigeria will this year recover from economic recession, projecting that the nation’s economy will grow by 0.8 per cent in 2017.

Citing increased crude oil production due to security improvement, the IMF stated that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by 0.8 per cent in 2017 and 2.3 per cent in 2018.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, expressed optimism that developments in the macro economy would be positive.

Also, the Managing Director, FBN Holdings, Mr. U.K Eke, described 2016 as a year characterised by significant uncertainty in the operating environment.

“We expect an improved economic environment through 2017 and are confident that the foundations we have put in place will drive improved financial performance and consequently enhance shareholders’ returns,” he said.

Also, the Chief Executive Officer, Diamond Bank, Mr. Uzoma Dozie, said in the months ahead, the bank would continue to deploy new technologies and digital applications to drive financial inclusion and convenient banking amidst a decline in the pace of economic activities and weak economic fundamentals.

The bank will also continue to deepen its retail strategy to mop up low cost fund, expand its credit creation structure and increase market share in all market segments, he added.

Banks Bar Power Discos from Loans

Meanwhile, commercial banks have reportedly barred the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria’s power sector from obtaining financial facilities to support their operations, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has disclosed.

ANED said in a statement in Abuja on Monday, that the banks took this decision on the back of a N152.16 billion financial package from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) allegedly written against their accounts, but which they have received only N49 billion.

ANED’s Director of Research and Advocacy, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, who signed the statement, stated that the loan was from the CBN-backed Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Fund (NEMSF) worth N213 billion.

The financial package was designed by the central bank to settle the debts incurred by the electricity market within the interim rule periods, as well as legacy gas supply debts owed gas suppliers by the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) but now transferred to the Nigerian Electricity Liabilities Management Company (NELMCO).

According to Oduntan, the breakdown of the fund’s disbursements so far shows that N58.45 billion which is about 27.8 per cent was designated for the Discos, while N152.16 billion (72.3 per cent) was for the power generation companies (Gencos), gas suppliers and other service providers.

He stated that only N49 billion has been received by some Discos from the N120 billion the CBN had disbursed since it commenced in 2015.

Oduntan, also claimed that the N152.16 billion written in the name of the Discos were not for them, but that it was in their financial books.

“The debt encumbrance is a significant impediment to the Discos’ ability to borrow money to finance their capital investment, and their financing of the entire value chain,” said Oduntan.

He also spoke about the recent N701.9 billion approved for the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to pay the Gencos for power that would be supplied from January 2017 to 2019, saying that if the retail end of the market would be ignored by the government in its intervention, the N701 billion may not sustain the electricity market.

“It is a good first step towards resolving the market liquidity challenge and ensuring that the upstream operators are not financially distressed, but it is not a complete solution to the problem.

“As long as the retail end of the value chain continues to under-recover its cost, any possibility of the government recovering its intervention or fixing the ailments of the sector is an illusory one,” Oduntan stated.

ANED also claimed that the market still has an outstanding shortfalls of over N800 billion which it added must be addressed urgently to ensure that the N701 billion loan to the NBET would be recovered.

West Africa: Continuing the Fight to Save 25 Million Lives Across the Sahel

[Malaria Consortium] ACCESS-SMC brought together a consortium of leading players in malaria prevention to deliver seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) to seven countries across the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and The Gambia. In the Sahel, malaria remains one of the leading cause of severe illness and mortality in young children, with those under the age of five at most risk. For the 25 million children who live in areas subject to a seasonal surge in malaria incidence, SMC is an effective, lifesav

Nigeria: 78 Bank Directors Get N10.34 Billion Dividend in 2016

By Nkiruka Nnorom

AT the backdrop of the recession the nation’s economy slipped into last year alongside inflationary pressures, corporate results from the banking sector so far released indicate significant increases in fortune for the investors.

While the general shareholders of the first batch of seven banks announcing results so far received a total dividend income of N162 billion, indicating a rise by 13 per cent against N143.3billion in 2015, directors of the banks numbering 78 recorded 20.5 per cent rise in their dividend income at N10.34 billion as against N8.58 billion in 2015.

The banks are Zenith International Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa, UBA Plc, FCMB Group Plc, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc.

Financial Vanguard analysis revealed that three of the banks, namely, Zenith Bank, Access Bank and UBA accounted for 64 per cent of the total dividend declared by the seven banks, while their directors smiled home with N9.42 billion.

Further analysis showed that the Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, and the Chairman of UBA, Tony Elumelu, benefited the most, receiving N9.25 billion, representing 89.5 per cent of the total dividend received by the 78 directors during the year.

Growth in dividend income

The dividend collected by the trio of Ovia, Wigwe and Elumelu also represents 5.7 per cent of the N162 billion total dividend declared by the seven banks and 8.9 per cent of N103.99 billion total dividend declared by the three banks in 2016. Though the growth in dividend income is considered commendable by some capital market analysts who are looking at the recessionary economic environment, it however, indicated a decline in real returns to the general shareholders whose income lagged behind average inflation rate of over 16 per cent during the year. But this also indicated that the basket returns to directors towered above the inflation rate.

Speaking to select media personalities last weekend in Abuja, the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Office of the Vice President, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, expressed surprise at the profits and returns being announced by most corporate organizations for the year ended 2016 against the perspective of adverse economic circumstance.

However, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Mr. Segun Agbaje, had told journalists earlier this month at the heels of the results rolled out by some banks that the increases in figures of the bottom-line and returns does not reflect a contradictory performance against the economic situation, explaining that when measured against real exchange rate developments where Naira, the reporting currency, had depreciated by almost 60 per cent, the returns were not as impressive. He argued that when the depreciation is discounted the corporate results would be in the negative.

Shareholding by banks

Furthermore, breakdown of the shareholding structure of the seven banks showed that the 78 directors held 10.15 billion shares comprising of 4.4 billion direct and 5.75 billion indirect shares, which represent 5.5 per cent of the banks’ total 184.8 billion shares. The 10 directors of Zenith Bank hold 2.99 billion or 9.5 per cent of the bank’s issued shares of 31.4 billion. This was followed by Access Bank where 13 directors hold 2.87 billion shares or 9.9 per cent of the 28.9 billion issued shares of the bank.

Stanbic IBTC came third with its six directors holding 1.259 billion shares, representing 12.6 per cent of the 10 billion issued shares of the bank. The 17 directors of UBA ranked fourth, holding 2.22 billion shares, representing 6.1 per cent of 36.3 billion of the bank’s issued shares. FCMB was the next with its seven directors accounting for 2.22 billion shares or 11.2 per cent of the bank’s 19.8 billion issued shares.

GTB, which has 12 directors ranked sixth with the directors accounting for 64.02 million shares or 0.2 per cent of 29.4 billion ordinary shares of the bank in 2016, while Fidelity Bank, came last with its 13 directors holding 515.32 million shares, representing 1.8 per cent of 28.96 billion the bank’s shares.

Zenith, Access, UBA account for 64.2% declared dividend

Zenith Bank, Access Bank and UBA accounted for 64 per cent and 60.2 per cent of the total dividend declared by the seven banks in 2016 and 2015 respectively. The total dividend declared by the three banks amounted to N103.99 billion in 2016 and N88.71 billion in 2015.

In 2016, the 40 directors of the three banks, UBA, Zenith and Access Bank, went home with N9.42 billion of the N103.99 billion dividend declared by the three banks. This represents 5.9 per cent of the N162.6 billion dividend declared in 2016 by the seven banks and 9.22 per cent of the N103.99 billion dividend declared by the three banks in 2016.

In 2015, the directors of the three banks received N6.83 billion or 7.96 per cent of the N88.71 billion total dividend declared by the three banks for the year. This also represents 4.64 per cent of the N143.3 billion dividend declared by the seven banks for the year.

Details of directors’ dividends

The 10 directors of Zenith Bank received N6.06 billion or 9.5 per cent of N63.42 billion dividend declared by the bank in 2016. Access Bank’s 13 directors followed with N1.70 billion, representing 9.0 per cent of N18.80 billion dividend declared by the bank in 2016. The 17 directors of UBA ranked third, receiving N1.66 billion or 7.6 per cent of N21.77 billion dividend declared by the bank.

For GT Bank, its 12 directors smiled home with N707.03 million dividend, representing 1.4 per cent of N52.09 billion dividend proposed by the bank in 2016, while the 13 directors of Fidelity Bank got N86.22 million or 2.1 per cent of N4.05 billion dividend declared by the bank in 2016. Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc’s six directors got N62.96 million dividend, representing 12.6 per cent of N500 million dividend declared by the bank. FCMB Group’s seven directors got N22.99 million, representing 1.2 per cent of N1.98 billion dividend declared by the bank within the year.

Top 10 directors by dividend received

Analysis of the top 10 dividend earning directors in 2016 showed that Jim Ovia, the chairman of Zenith Bank earned the highest dividend of N5.95 billion followed by Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank Plc who earned N1.75 billion.

Tony Elumelu, UBA chairman, was the third highest dividend earning director with N1.55 billion, followed by Olusegun Agbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTB and Adaora Umeoji, the Deputy Managing Director of Zenith with N662.56 million and N63.87 million dividend respectively.

Others are Rahan Matani, a non-executive director in Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, who came sixth with dividend payout of N53.23 million. Dan Okeke, an executive director in UBA came seventh with N22.71 million; Mrs Rose Okwechime, another director in UBA got N22.59 million dividend, while Mr. Christopher Eze, the former chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc, and Ladi Balogun, a non-executive director in FCMB Group were the last on the list with N21.53 million and N20.02 million dividend payout respectively.

Highest dividend earning directors by banks

In GTB, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, who is the Managing Director/Chief Executive, emerged the highest dividend earner, receiving N662.26 million dividend in 2016, followed by Mr. Ademola Odeyemi, Executive Director in charge of International Banking, who receivedN18.7 million dividend. Mrs Catherine Echeozo, the Deputy Group Managing Director came third with N17.1 million dividend payment.

In Stanbic IBTC, Mr Ratan Mahtani, a non-executive director, with indirect holding in the bank, got the highest dividend, earning N53.23 million. He was followed by Atedo Peterside, erstwhile chairman, who earned N6 million through an indirect holding and Ifeoma Esiri, a non-Executive director, who earned N2.3 million through direct and indirect equity interest.

In FCMB, Mr Ladi Balogun,a non-executive director got the highest dividend as he smiled home with N20.02 million, followed by Dr Jonathan Long, chairman, who got N1.11 million dividend, while Mr Olusegun Odubogun, non-executive independent director, ranked third in the bank, earning N800,000 (Eight hundred thousand naira only).

In UBA, Mr. Tony Elumelu, chairman, topped other directors as he received N1.55 billion dividend. Mr. Dan Okeke, an executive director, followed far behind Elumelu with N22.71 million dividend, while Mrs. Rose Okwechime, non-executive director, with only indirect shareholding in the bank, came third with N22.59 million dividend.

In Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive, emerged the top dividend earner with N1.75 billion dividend through direct and indirect holdings. Next was Obinna Nwosu, the former Group Deputy Managing Director, who received N19.50 million dividend, while Titilayo Osuntoki, executive director in charge of Business Banking, received N18.67 million dividend.

In Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, the chairman, towered above others, going home with N5.95 billion dividend in 2016. Ms. Adaora Umeoji, the Deputy Managing Director, followed with N63.87 million dividend, while Peter Amangbo, Group Managing Director/CEO ranked third, receiving N10.1 million dividend.

In Fidelity Bank, Chief Christopher Ezeh, former chairman of the bank, emerged the highest dividend earner with N21.53 million dividend. Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director/CEO, came second with N14.14 million dividend, while Mr. Robert Nnana-Kalu, a non-executive director in the bank got N14 million dividend.

Nigeria: Delta Govt Pledges Enabling Environment for Aladja Industrial Energy Park

By Festus Ahon And Egufe Yafugborhi

Delta State Government has pledged to provide an enabling environment for the establishment of the Aladja Industrial Energy Park, AIEPARK, Aladja, Udu Local Government Area of the state.

Secretary to the State Government, Mr Festus Agas, gave the assurance at Government House, Asaba, when Warri-based firm, O-Secul Nigeria Limited, initiator of the industrial park project and one of its partners, Dubai-based Access Power, visited to intimate government of their readiness to kick-start the project with the provision of a 650mw power plant.

Agas said that the current administration was committed to the rapid socio-economic development of the state and stressed the need for mutually beneficial collaboration with relevant private investors as the state government can not do it alone.

Meanwhile Chairman, O-secul, Michael Orugbo, told Vanguard in Warri after the Asaba visit that in terms of funding, land acquisition and other investors’ requirements, Access Power and O-Secul were ready to start construction of the power plant to pave way for the investors in other sectors.

He said: “About 150 acres of land have been duly acquired from the host community. A sales agreement with the Nigerian Gas Company for gas to feed the power plant had been signed earlier and needs review.”


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Liberia: Access Bank Associates With Clients

Access Bank Liberia, one of the Leading Commercial Banks in the country has identified with their customers through a direct marketing activity at the waterside market and its environs.

Speaking with this paper at the colorful ceremony, the Head of Marketing and Deposit Mr. Reindorf Cletus Haligah used the opportunity to thank their valued customers and the General public for their support in doing business with them and encourage those who are not with them to take advantage of their various wonderful products and services.

He also emphasized during his interaction with their customers and marketers that Access Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank that provides Banking and financial services to small, medium and Large scale businesses in the country.

Some marketers where so excited to have their bank visit them and want to be identified with them. One of them said her business will not have become what it is today without Access Bank. Due to the Banks quest to make sure every sector of the financial market is taking care of, most people take them to be a micro finance institution.

The Marketing head said they have retail banking products and also credit products and that he said is a function of a commercial bank and not a micro finance institution. He said they are backed by very powerful owners that put them in a very good position to serve the market right.

Madam Cecilia Dolo a trader at the market told our reporter that some of their friends take Loans from the Bank refuse to pay back resulting to the bank loosing great sum of money. She encouraged the public to live to their word and pay the bank if they borrow from them.

Due to the Banks quest to make sure every sector of the financial market is taking care of, most people take them to be a micro finance institution.

He assured medium and large scale companies in the country to take advantage of their Banking products and services by joining the Access Bank’s family.


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Africa: New Tuberculosis Drugs May Become Ineffective – Study

By Lyndal Rowlands

United Nations — New antibiotics that could treat tuberculosis may rapidly become ineffective, according to new research published by the Lancet ahead of World Tuberculosis Day.

The rise in multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which affected 480,000 people in 2015, could mean that even newly discovered drugs will soon be useless, the study found.

In total both drug resistant and non-drug resistant Tuberculosis (TB) killed an estimated 1.8 million people in 2015, making it the world’s deadliest infectious disease. The five countries where TB is most predominant are India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa.

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis reflects the meeting of an ancient and under-addressed disease – tuberculosis – with an emerging modern threat – antimicrobial resistance. The inappropriate use of antibiotics, including taking them without prescription or not following doctor’s orders closely is slowly rendering many antibiotics useless.

“Resistance to anti-tuberculosis drugs is a global problem that threatens to derail efforts to eradicate the disease,” said lead author of the Lancet report Professor Keertan Dheda from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

“Even when the drugs work, TB is difficult to cure and requires months of treatment with a cocktail of drugs. When resistance occurs the treatment can take years and the drugs used have unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects,” said Dheda.

Dheda added that it is important for improved diagnostic tests, which are currently being developed, to be made available in low-income countries “so as to inform treatment decisions and preserve the efficacy of any new antibiotic drugs for TB.”

The report was published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine on World TB Day – 24 March.

Meanwhile, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Access Campaign fewer than five percent of people with multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis have access to new medicines, four years after these medications were released.

“It’s downright disheartening that, with hundreds of thousands of people living with deadly drug-resistant tuberculosis, only 4,800 people last year received the two new drugs that could dramatically increase the number of lives saved,” said Dr. Isaac Chikwanha, TB advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign.

“Our first major problem is that pharmaceutical corporations are not even registering important new drugs in some of the countries hardest hit by TB; The next major problem is their high price,” said Dr. Chikwanha.

“People with drug resistant TB who don’t have access to the two new drugs continue to be treated with older, more toxic regimens that cure only 50 percent of people treated and cause severe side effects ranging from severe nausea to deafness to psychosis,” said MSF Access.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization recently told IPS at a press conference on antimicrobial resistance that “there is no denying the fact that TB is a top priority for the world.”

She says that there are two high level meetings planned in 2017 and 2018 to “shine a light on TB” and give it “the political attention and the investment in research and development that it deserves.”

However according to both MSF Access and the new Lancet study, research and development alone, though needed, is not enough to address the shortcomings in the global response to TB and Antimicrobial Resistance without a matching political response.

In a comment article published alongside the new Lancet study David W Dowdy from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that the difference between “a drug-resistant tuberculosis epidemic of unprecedented global scale” or “an unprecedented reversal of the global drug-resistant tuberculosis burden,” falls largely to whether there is “political will to prioritise a specific response to the disease.”

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South Africa: DA Will Stand Up to Eskom Onslaught

press releaseBy Natasha Mazzone MP

The DA notes the media release by Eskom today signalling their intent to claim damages from the DA for defamation and wrongful actions against Eskom and the Group Chief Executive, Matshela Koko.

We have already filed our intention to defend this action and look forward to the opportunity to do so. The fact that Mr Koko is seeking R20 million from the DA is laughable.

The DA will not be intimidated and will not back down.

This court action will no doubt be funded by the South African taxpayer and therefore the DA will also be submitting parliamentary questions to expose how much this litigation will cost.

Yet again the state is using public funds to defend the elite.

The DA is of the belief that the comments Mr Koko refers to, were fair and made in relation to the Dentons report which is publically acknowledged to allegedly contain damning information on widespread corruption within the State-owned Entity (SOE).

The DA has tried to access the full, uncensored version of the report and have submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to the report by Dentons into Eskom. Yet, to date, only redacted versions have been released.

The report cost South Africans R27 million and we all deserve to know what the uncensored version contains.

It is hoped that during this process, the full report, will be released.

Natasha Mazzone MP

DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

South Africa

Mugabe Wants Zuma’s Powers To Appoint Chief Justice

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Africa: Microsoft Recommits to Affordable Internet Access in Africa

By Peter Oluka

Microsoft Corp. has renewed its Affordable Access Initiative (AAC) grant for a second year. The fund assists companies working to bring internet access and new technologies, services and models to under-served markets.

The application process is now open for a new set of partners.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek recalled that the first round of investments, Microsoft awarded grants to 12 businesses, five of which were from Africa and one from Nigeria named Ekovolt.

“The social enterprises we support have inspired us with practical, high-impact and scalable approaches to help close the digital divide,” said Microsoft Affordable Access Initiatives Director Paul Garnett, writing in NextBillion.

“It’s a privilege to see these solutions take shape, and to play a role in helping local entrepreneurs spur job creation and economic growth.”

In the fund’s first round of investments, Microsoft awarded grants to 12 businesses offering affordable internet access or cloud-based services in fields such as power generation, health, education, finance and agriculture.

AirJaldi, a 2016 grant recipient, provides high-quality Wi-Fi broadband connectivity at reasonable rates to more than 90,000 public- and private-sector clients in rural India. Vista Africa, another recipient from last year, is a cloud-based software platform that helps healthcare providers more easily screen, track and treat patients’ health in areas where connectivity is limited.

In addition to receiving funding and software to help power and develop their businesses, grant recipients will join a growing ecosystem of other grantees and funders to further increase their impact.

This initiative is also connected to the work of Microsoft Philanthropies, which is helping to bring technology’s benefits to those who need them most. Microsoft Philanthropies is making its digital literacy, online safety and computer science education programs available to grant recipients and the communities they serve.

“Too many people around the world lack internet connectivity and the educational, commercial and economic benefits of cloud-based services,” said Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies. “Affordable Access Initiative grants, and the technology ecosystems they help support, empower entrepreneurs to provide connectivity, which then enables the creation of critical services for those who need it most.”


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