Posts tagged as: communication

Uganda:Building Energy Celebrates the Beginning of Production At Its Photovoltaic Power Plant in Uganda

press release

Tororo, Uganda — The Tororo 10 MWp plant, with 16 GWh of renewable energy generated annually, will cater for the energy requirements of 35,838 people and help reduce CO2 emissions by 7,200 tons.

Building Energy, multinational company operating as a Globally Integrated IPP in the Renewable Energy Industry, announces the Inauguration of the Tororo Solar Plant, its first photovoltaic system in Uganda. With a capacity of 10 MWp, this plant is among the largest in Eastern Africa. Building Energy was also responsible for the development of the project, arranging the financing, as well as the construction and commissioning of the plant. The beginning of operations has been celebrated on the occasion of the ribbon cutting ceremony in Tororo, in the presence of Matteo Brambilla, MD Africa and Middle East at Building Energy, and Attilio Pacifici, EU Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Uganda.

The Tororo solar plant will generate around 16 GWh of energy annually, catering to the energy needs of more than 35,838 people. In addition, the plant will foster clean industrial development in the town of Tororo and at the same time save atmospheric emissions of more than 7,200 tonnes of CO2 per year. Community Development initiatives are also underway.

The Solar Park was developed under the Global Energy Transfer Feed in Tariff (“GET FiT”), a dedicated support scheme for renewable energy projects managed by Germany’s KfW Development Bank in partnership with Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA) and funded by the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund, the governments of Norway, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

The EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund has provided funds through the GET FiT Solar Facility in the form of a top-up payment per kWh of delivered electricity over 20 years. This financing fills the gap between the generation costs and the feed-in tariff set by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

The overall $19.6 million construction investment at Tororo was financed by FMO, the Dutch development bank which, as Mandated Lead Arranger, coordinated the provision of a $14.7 million term loan facility. Fifty percent of the funding was syndicated to the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), while the overall equity contribution of the shareholders was $4.9 million.

Contacts:

Building Energy

Maria Grazia Tiballi

+39-02-49527730

m.tiballi@buildingenergy.it

buildingenergy.it

Uganda

Govt ‘Concerned’ About Uganda Hosting Dissidents

There have been reports that Rwanda is concerned about Uganda allowing Rwandan dissidents to live and conduct business… Read more »

Turkey Wins Bid to Finance, Build U.S.$1.9 Billion Second Phase of Tanzania Railway

By Allan Olingo

In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Dar es Salaam on a state visit.

A month later, Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi, through a joint venture with Portuguese company Mota Engil, won the first contract under the Tanzanian railway modernisation programme, worth $1.2 billion.

The Chinese had been the favourites, complete with a $7.9 billion funding promise from Beijing.

Now the Turkish firm is back in the news after being awarded a second project to build a 422-kilometre high-speed electric standard gauge railway line. This is the longest section of the project, which has been divided into four phases.

In the January meeting, Tanzanian President John Magufuli asked for funding from President Erdogan. Last week, the project was awarded to the Turks, beating 15 competitors.

“We sought financing from Turkey. I am confident that we will secure the loan as President Erdogan said that’s a ‘small’ matter to him. We have also received a bid from a Turkish company that is keen on executing the project,” President Magufuli said.

First 205-km phase

Yapi Merkezi, which has already embarked on the first 205-km phase between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, will now construct the second phase between Morogoro and Makutupora. The contract is worth $1.92 billion.

“After assessment of the bids, Yapi Merkezi met the technical and financial requirements. It will now design and construct the railway line,” said Tanzanian state-owned railway infrastructure authority Reli Assets Holding Company Ltd in a statement.

The deal is understood to have been pegged on Tanzania’s April request to the Turkish state-owned Export Credit Bank of Turkey (Eximbank) to help finance the 400-km stretch of the new railway.

Erdem Arioglu, the vice president of Yapi Merkezi, said the agreement is the largest ever signed by a single Turkish firm abroad.

“We will singlehandedly build this project, complete with accompanying technology and infrastructure. We will deliver within the agreed timelines,” Mr Arioglu said.

Chinese contractors are modernising Kenya’s and Uganda’s railway infrastructure.

The EastAfrican understands that in both phases of Tanzania’s project, the Chinese submitted their bids. Although the first contract had been awarded to them, it was cancelled over “ethical concerns”.

“In the first contract, out of the 39 firms that bid for the Dar to Morogoro 205-km line, there were seven Chinese firms. In this second one, out of the 15 firms that placed their bids, we had four Chinese firms. They still have strong interest and we expect to see them in the other bids,” a government official told The EastAfrican.

Four parts

Tanzania divided construction of its railway into four parts, and put out separate tenders to design it. The three remaining sections are Makutupora to Tabora (294 km), Tabora to Isaka (133 km) and Isaka to Mwanza (248 km).

Tanzanian state-run railway firm Railway Assets Holding Company is expected to award at least one more contract before the end of the year, with the others slated for early next year.

The country plans to spend $14.2 billion over the next five years to build the 2,561-km standard gauge railway connecting its main port of Dar es Salaam to land-locked neighbours, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Rwanda and Uganda.

Securing soft loans

“As a country, we have already set aside $500 million dollars for the project. We are now expecting to secure soft loans from development partners and financial institutions for implementation of the plan,” said Makame Mbarawa, the Works, Transport and Communication Minister.

The new developments leave in question the role that China will play in the project.

In July 2016, China, through its Exim Bank, agreed to advance Tanzania $7.9 million for the railway project, despite its key contracting firms having been blacklisted by President Magufuli’s administration over malpractices in the tendering process.

In addition to Tanzania, the Turkish firm has shown interest in running the 751-km Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line. In February last year, Yapi Merkezi bid for the project jointly with Turkish State Railways TCDD.

The project also attracted Chinese companies; the consortium of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and China Railway Engineering Corporation won the bid for management of the line for six years.

Africa:Barclays Africa Group and Omfif Launch Africa Financial Markets Index

press release

London — Expanding and deepening financial markets across Africa is a central condition for the next stage of the continent’s development. That is a key conclusion of the Africa Financial Markets Index launched today by think tank OMFIF and sponsored by Barclays Africa Group Limited (BAGL).

Africa’s large and dynamic markets present above-average opportunities for growth, yet investment prospects – for both international and local investors – are hampered by underdeveloped financial markets and unclear legal and regulatory frameworks.

The Index ranks the maturity, openness and accessibility of 17 financial markets in Africa, based on both qualitative and quantitative criteria. Development of local investor capacity and ability to attract foreign capital are key points of focus. “Through expert analysis of the African financial markets, the Africa Financial Markets Index draws global attention to the considerable investment opportunities and uncovers the untapped market potential,” says Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

The Index focuses on six fundamental pillars for financial market performance:

Market depth

Access to foreign exchange

Market transparency and regulation

Capacity of local investors

Macroeconomic opportunity

Enforceability of international financial agreements

The markets surveyed are; Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The Index intends to track progress annually, supplying a toolkit for countries wishing to build financial infrastructure.

African countries are implementing a growing number of national policy frameworks for market development. One of the greatest constraints on growth-enhancing investment is the low capacity of local investors, partly linked to limitations on the range of assets for local investors.

Given its size and historical position, South Africa tops the 2017 list, despite poor recent macroeconomic performance, based on the strength of its financial markets as well as its relative openness and transparency for transactions. Others are closing the gap. Mauritius and Botswana have strengths in tax and regulation and access to foreign exchange. Kenya and Ghana provide signs of progress. Ivory Coast, with a low overall score, is home to a growing regional bourse, pointing to future improvement. Ethiopia shows the highest GDP growth prospects of the 17 countries – even though it comes bottom of the list in terms of financial market prowess.

“The Index provides countries with valuable insights and tools to improve the state of their financial markets,” says Maria Ramos, Chief Executive, BAGL. “By broadening and deepening their understanding of the requirements of local and international investors, Africa’s leaders can develop robust markets – a prime condition for sustainable, inclusive growth.”

“Liquidity, regulation, foreign exchange restrictions and policy choices are among the chief concerns for investors considering their African engagement,” says David Marsh, Managing Director, OMFIF. “Our survey highlights the areas where specific countries need to make genuine advances to forge strong positions in the competition for sustainable investment.”

In addition to statistical analysis, OMFIF gained additional insights by surveying 60 top executives from financial institutions operating across the 17 countries, including banks, investors, securities exchanges, regulators, audit and accounting firms, and international financial and development institutions.

The Index can be viewed here: http://thinktank.omfif.org/afmindex

Media enquiries:

Sarah Butler

Communications and Marketing

OMFIF

Sarah.butler@omfif.org

+44-207-965-4492

Lerato Matsaneng

Media and Corporate Relations

Barclays Africa Group

Lerato.matsaneng@absa.co.za

+27-64-757-4716

For further information about Barclays Africa, please visit http://www.barclaysafrica.com

Africa:The Traditional Vegetable and Sweet Potato Research That’s Revolutionising the Way We Build Food and Nutrition Security in Africa

opinion

Johannesburg — Research focusing on traditional crops that are often ignored and known as “orphan crops” shows they contain minerals and vitamins that are essential for the body and are mostly consumed by rural African people. Various agricultural research institutions in Africa are currently carrying out research among these crops mainly to improve yields and controlling and lowering disease tolerance.

This is because there is need to urgently match Africa’s booming population with adequate food systems because if people are well nourished they become healthy and productive which is good for development. As the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) puts it “good nutrition begins with food and agriculture”.

The continent is the second most populous after Asia with about 2, 1 billion people. One in three people suffer from some form of malnutrition according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report. Societal costs of malnutrition have resulted in 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) being lost every year in Africa. Whereas the levels of stunting are generally on a decline over the past decade statistics are still unacceptably high with over 58 million of Africa’s children stunted. Beyond the social cost, FAO notes that the cost to the global economy caused by malnutrition, as a result of lost productivity and direct health care costs, could account for as much as 5 percent of GDP equivalent to US$3.5 trillion per year or US$500 per person.

At the Graça Machel Trust we believe that good nutrition must start at an early stage, for example, the first 1000 days from conception to birth are very critical. We work with key regional partners to increase capacity and build up the institutional establishment of national civil society nutrition networks. Strengthening these national civil society nutrition networks helps to keep nutrition advocacy in Africa on the global agenda.

Innovation Now new research is looking at innovative ways to boost agricultural production to feed the continent’s booming population by focusing on the orphaned crops that have been used for many years by Africa’s poor to relieve famine. Agricultural research is mainly concerned at increasing yields, adding of essential nutrients otherwise known as crop Bio- fortification, and control and lowering of diseases. Research has particularly been targeted at traditional vegetables because there are highly nutritious. The Water Research Commission has identified three inter-related challenges in sub-Saharan Africa which are water scarcity, population growth, and food and nutritional insecurity of essential micronutrients one of it is vitamin A. This also means agricultural production needs to increase against a backdrop of issues such as climate change (extreme weather, flooding, and droughts), soil fertility depletion, and land degradation. The majority of Africa’s population live in areas with poor soil fertility, and in addition, there are problems of access to capital and agricultural inputs and farming methods used by most Africans, which affects yields.

Traditional vegetables are capable of providing more than 50 percent of the recommended daily requirements of vitamins such as iron, zinc and beta carotene and they are also drought tolerant. Some of these vegetables are Chinese cabbage, pumpkin and water melon leaves, cowpea leaves and spider flower, which are widely eaten by mostly rural Africans in combination with thick maize meal porridge. These species often grow in the wild or as weeds, and collected for consumption as vegetables by African people. There are equally nutritious with iron, zinc and vitamins A and C and are also drought resistant.

The Water Research commission says: “The use of wild food forms part of the safety net that rural people use to cope with poverty, disaster and livelihood stress.” And for many years researchers and policy makers have ignored these types of leafy vegetables, but during the past two decades this has changed, particularly in countries like Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. The Agricultural Research Council of South Africa, for example, is making an effort to promote the cultivation and utilization of these vegetables by farmers, especially women and other vulnerable groups to mitigate malnutrition, effects of climate change and create wealth for all participants along the entire value chain.

Researchers are also focusing on the sweet potato crop because it is the seventh most produced food crop in the world after maize, rice, wheat, potato, cassava and barley. That’s according to FAO. And as a tuber crop it is the third most important after potato and cassava. It is a staple food in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It is also a common crop among poor farmers because it grows in marginal conditions with limited agricultural inputs and low labour requirements. And again, efforts are research is underway to improve sweet potato yield and make it more disease tolerant.

Sweet potato roots produce more edible energy per hectare per day than wheat, rice or cassava and contains considerable amounts of carbohydrates, protein, fibre, pro-vitamin A, Vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. It has been proven in many countries that Orange fleshed sweet potato variety, for instance, can be used to combat and alleviate vitamin A deficiency. This explains why Crop bio- fortification of sweet potatoes is in progress in most Sub-Saharan Africa including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique, Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa.

This article was compiled by Regional Coordinator Women in Media Network Millie Phiri with the assistance of the Graca Machel Trust scholarship PHD student Sonia Naidoo and alumni Nadia Ibraimo.

ABOUT:

The Graça Machel Trust The Graça Machel Trust is an advocacy organisation that works across the continent to drive positive change across women’s and children’s rights, as well as governance and leadership. Through our support of local initiatives and connecting key stakeholders at a regional, national and sub-national level, we help to catalyse action where it is needed. By using our convening power the Trust seeks to amplify the voices of women and children in Africa; influence governance; and promote women’s contributions and leadership in the economic social and political development of Africa.

ABOUT: Women in Media Network (WIMN) The Women in Media Network (WIMN) is the Trust’s most recent network comprising 35 highly experienced journalists from 15 countries across Africa. A key focus of the network will be to challenge the current perceptions and mindsets about Africa’s women and children and how they are portrayed in the media. We believe that through balanced storytelling we will be able shape a new reality – one that reflects more nuanced stories, told in the way that women want and deserve their stories to be told.

Tazara Vows to Increase Domestic Tourism As Numbers Skyrocket

By Iddy Mwema

Tourists have expressed their satisfaction with Tanzanian tourist attractions as Rovos Rail from South Africa increases its routes from three to five this year.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday during the arrival of a tourist train from South Africa, the Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) Public Relations Officer, Ms Regina Tarimo, said the increase of routes is evidence that tourists are satisfied with Tanzanian services.

“Our railway line is connected to Southern African countries, which is an opportunity for increased revenue as well as tourist attractions. This year, Rovos rail has brought tourists five times in the country compared to three times in the previous years.

This shows how tourists are satisfied with services offered here and tourist attractions which are available,” she said, adding that Tanzanians should cultivate a culture of visiting the country’s tourist attractions.

On his part, Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Public Relations Officer, Mr. Geoffrey Tengeneza said the increase of the rail routes is also a clear evidence of a good job being done by the tourist board in publicising the country’s tourist attractions.

In order to promote domestic tourism, Mr. Tengeneza said negotiations are underway between TTB and TAZARA to launch special routes during weekends that will give citizens a chance to visit tourist attractions and national parks where the rail passes.

“Our aim is also to make sure we influence as many citizens as possible to boost domestic tourism. Soon dialogue between TTB and TAZARA will start to promote local tourism,” he revealed.

According to him, Tanzania, home of Mount Kilimanjaro and Serengeti National Park, have been great tourist destinations which are witnessed by the increasing number of tourists in recent years.

One of the tourists, Ms Annette Steele from London, couldn’t hide her excitement as she sets to visit Zanzibar.

“I love Zanzibar, I can’t wait to land on beautiful beaches in Zanzibar,” she said happily when reached for comment.

Tanzania

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Zimbabwe:Truckers Block Beitbridgebeit bridge Border Post Border Post

By Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau

There was chaos at Beitbridge Border Post on Saturday after haulage truck drivers blocked the exit gate on the arrivals commercial section in protest against what they called poor service delivery by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), although officials were blaming truckers who do not want their cargo sealed.

For the better part of the day, traffic –mainly trucks — clogged the commercial arrivals section. It is reported that all truck drivers, both carrying goods in transit and for the local market, united to force Zimra officials to improve on efficiency and service delivery.

In separate interviews, the truckers said they were not happy with the manner in which traffic was managed, especially those carrying transit cargo.

“We spend more than three days here with Zimra saying they have run out of electronic seals for our cargo. Currently they are putting us in batches of 30 trucks, which they then escort to the next port of exit using one vehicle. This is a frustrating process considering that they release the escort vehicle once per day,” said a driver who chose anonymity.

He said the idea of escorting vehicles in batches created unnecessary delays adding that any such delay was eating into their salaries.

“Most of us are paid salaries based on the trips we make per month and a delay of three or four days is not good at all. We are calling on the government to urgently look into the issues around the customs clearance of transit cargo, ” he added.

He said they were concerned with the continued breakdown of the automated system for customs data (Asycuda World plus).

The new Statutory Instrument No 113 on control of transit cargo, makes it mandatory that no cargo shall depart any port of entry before all the details are captured into the electronic clearance system.

A Beitbridge based transporter, Mr Osbert Shumba said vehicles started moving at around 2am yesterday when the Asycuda system had been fixed.

“This is not good for business, we need to engage the customs authority and government, so that we may arrive at a solution. It seems we are having a system of people working on saving their jobs rather than serving the nation. Many transporters are contemplating abandoning the Zimbabwe route, while some have already done so due to the situation here (Beitbridge). Such a development is not good for international trade,” said Mr Shumba.

Zimra’s head of communications, Mr Canisio Mudzimu could not be reached through his mobile phone yesterday. However, some border authorities said the chaos was being fueled by a few transporters who do not want to comply with the new cargo tracking system.

“We have enough seals, it’s just that there are few individuals who want to cause unnecessary confusion,” said the official.

A total of 300 transit trucks pas through Beitbridge border post daily, while 600 are destined for the local market. Government this year introduced electronic cargo seals to deal with issues of transit fraud which is rife.

Transit fraud resulted in situations where importers declare that goods are in transit (removal in transit -RIT) to neighbouring countries yet the cargo is offloaded in Zimbabwe.

As a result of such activities the country was losing a lot of potential revenue to the criminals. Under the customs laws specified goods attract excise duty during importation into the country.

Zimbabwe:Truckers Block Beitbridge Border Post

By Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau

There was chaos at Beitbridge Border Post on Saturday after haulage truck drivers blocked the exit gate on the arrivals commercial section in protest against what they called poor service delivery by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), although officials were blaming truckers who do not want their cargo sealed.

For the better part of the day, traffic –mainly trucks — clogged the commercial arrivals section. It is reported that all truck drivers, both carrying goods in transit and for the local market, united to force Zimra officials to improve on efficiency and service delivery.

In separate interviews, the truckers said they were not happy with the manner in which traffic was managed, especially those carrying transit cargo.

“We spend more than three days here with Zimra saying they have run out of electronic seals for our cargo. Currently they are putting us in batches of 30 trucks, which they then escort to the next port of exit using one vehicle. This is a frustrating process considering that they release the escort vehicle once per day,” said a driver who chose anonymity.

He said the idea of escorting vehicles in batches created unnecessary delays adding that any such delay was eating into their salaries.

“Most of us are paid salaries based on the trips we make per month and a delay of three or four days is not good at all. We are calling on the government to urgently look into the issues around the customs clearance of transit cargo, ” he added.

He said they were concerned with the continued breakdown of the automated system for customs data (Asycuda World plus).

The new Statutory Instrument No 113 on control of transit cargo, makes it mandatory that no cargo shall depart any port of entry before all the details are captured into the electronic clearance system.

A Beitbridge based transporter, Mr Osbert Shumba said vehicles started moving at around 2am yesterday when the Asycuda system had been fixed.

“This is not good for business, we need to engage the customs authority and government, so that we may arrive at a solution. It seems we are having a system of people working on saving their jobs rather than serving the nation. Many transporters are contemplating abandoning the Zimbabwe route, while some have already done so due to the situation here (Beitbridge). Such a development is not good for international trade,” said Mr Shumba.

Zimra’s head of communications, Mr Canisio Mudzimu could not be reached through his mobile phone yesterday. However, some border authorities said the chaos was being fueled by a few transporters who do not want to comply with the new cargo tracking system.

“We have enough seals, it’s just that there are few individuals who want to cause unnecessary confusion,” said the official.

A total of 300 transit trucks pas through Beitbridge border post daily, while 600 are destined for the local market. Government this year introduced electronic cargo seals to deal with issues of transit fraud which is rife.

Transit fraud resulted in situations where importers declare that goods are in transit (removal in transit -RIT) to neighbouring countries yet the cargo is offloaded in Zimbabwe.

As a result of such activities the country was losing a lot of potential revenue to the criminals. Under the customs laws specified goods attract excise duty during importation into the country.

Zimbabwe:Mbare Musika Faces Temporary Closure

By Nyemudzai Kakore

Harare City Council will today and tomorrow temporarily shut down part of Mbare Musika Bus Terminus to allow for the upgrading of the station to ease congestion as well as restore order in the CBD, a council official said.

Harare corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme said Coventry Holding Bay has now been turned into a bus terminus to pick-up and drop-off passengers from Western suburbs. Mr Chideme said the programme code named “Operation Sunshine City” will witness three new bus terminuses being established. The terminuses will be put in place opposite Rhodesville Police Station and at Coca-Cola Corner where ablution facilities were being put in place since yesterday.

“Mbare Musika Bus Terminus will be under- going renovations beginning tomorrow (today) .The renovations include resurfacing, putting new sheds and fencing of the terminus to make sure that council is able to collect its revenue and to get rid of touts. In the meantime, buses will be using only sections of the areas where we would have completed renovations to pick-up and drop-off passengers. It will be a parallel process. However, we are still looking for more convenient bus terminuses to ease congestion. Rhodesville bus terminus will be ferrying people to places such as Mutare and Marondera while Coca-Cola corner will ferry people to places such as Murehwa and Mutoko,” he said.

The move by council to remove vendors from undesignated sites as well as establish new bus terminuses comes after President Mugabe last week bemoaned the vendor menace and lack of order in the CBD, saying Harare should be the smartest city in the country as it is the capital.

Mr Chideme said council had banned all illegal taxis and commuter omnibuses operating at undesignated places around the city. He said shuttle bus services will be providing passengers with relief transport by dropping them closer to bus terminuses. Questioned on how council will incorporate vendors, Mr Chideme said: “Most vendors will now be relocated to the newly-established bus terminuses so that they will be able to sell their wares to customers boarding buses to different destinations.”

Rwanda:Breast Cancer – Early Detection Saves Life

opinionBy Lydia Atieno

Haston Charlotte talks with a calm and confident endearing voice, sharing her story of how she survived one of the deadliest diseases, cancer. The 50-year old mother of one from Kagugu in Gasabo District was able to beat breast cancer, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment which was administered when the disease was still in its first stage. “I was lucky to get early diagnosis and treatment before the disease had spread and in its first stage, before the worst could happen,” she says.

A former nurse at King Faisal hospital, Charlotte says that during her professional routine of working with medical doctors that were screening and giving treatment to patients, it, one day in 2014, occurred to her that she should as well go for a medical test.

“When I went for screening, I was shocked by the results which were positive. This left me anxious and fearful. I never imagined myself having breast cancer. It was a disease that I would read about and see patients fighting with; but now here I was.”

However, since the cancer was in its first stage, Charlotte says she was able to get all the treatment she needed. Her medical insurance cover also came in handy to save her from the would-be high treatment costs. She received treatment at King Faisal Hospital, Kigali, between June, 2014 and January, 2015. She is totally healed and is now working at King Faisal Hospital as a midwife.

Charlotte also started an initiative known as Breast Cancer Initiative in East Africa (BCIEA) that provides support to breast cancer patients and survivors.

Charlotte is among the many people in Rwanda that have benefitted from awareness campaigns and early cancer diagnosis and treatment. Awareness has been, especially, created through behaviour change communications spearheaded by the Ministry of Health through the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

Breast cancer awareness

As part of the activities to raise awareness on breast cancer, the Ministry of Health has organised a cancer awareness walk on November 4 which will start from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to Kagugu.

The walk and activities of the day will highlight aspects such as early diagnosis, treatment, as well as types of cancer, among others.

Breast cancer remains one of the commonest cancers affecting women all over the world, including Rwanda. According to statistics from RBC, the burden of breast cancer in Rwanda is still high.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, after cervical cancer. Annually, there are around 550 cases of breast cancer patients who seek treatment. Among them, only 30 per cent are seeking medication while at an early stage, while the remaining cases seek treatment when the condition is in advanced stages.

Dr Aimee Muhimpundu, the non-communicable diseases division manager at RBC, says the major risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including breast cancer, are tobacco use, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.

She encourages people to reduce exposure to the risk factors so that they avoid getting such non-communicable diseases.

“People should engage in more active lifestyle habits, at least 30 minutes per day, take a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and go for check-ups once a year,” she says.

Muhimpundu, however, advises that those affected already should follow the guidelines provided by their medical care providers to avoid further complications.

Measures in place to ensure early detection

According to Dr Francoise Uwinkindi, the director of Cancer Diseases Unit at RBC, the biggest challenge is that people seek treatment late, when the condition is in its third and fourth stage and there is less that can be done to cure it.

At this stage, he explains that the cancer cells have already spread from the breast to other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs and even bones, making it hard to heal completely.

The good news, he says, is that when detected early, cancer can be treated completely unlike in its advanced stage where only palliative can be provided.

“At an advanced stage, we can only work on symptoms and control the pain. This is the most common situation among the patients we attend to,” he says.

Uwinkindi notes that at least 65 per cent of patients with breast cancer come when it is at an advanced stage. He adds that for this reason, the Ministry of Health is putting much effort in creating more awareness about breast cancer so that people are in position to read the symptoms and signs of breast cancer early and seek timely treatment.

He says awareness campaigns have also been done on platforms such as social media, through NGOs activities as well as in the community, where people have been trained to avoid NCDs including breast cancer.

Uwinkindi says 100 cells across the country are among the places where such activities are carried out. Depending on how people will embrace the initiative, he says the same awareness campaigns will be rolled out to other places all over the country.

During these on-going sensitisation drives, women are taught and encouraged to do monthly self breast examination.

“Since we are working with the community, we are expecting to have many people turning out for early diagnosis,” he adds.

Uwinkindi says mammography is the best way to screen breast cancer, but since it’s not widespread in the country, best clinical examination is being used.

“At the health centre, when health workers discover that a woman is having the signs of breast cancer, she is transferred to the district hospital where advanced investigations are done to rule out the suspicions of breast cancer or differentiate it from any other breast lamp,” he says.

At district level, when found out to be breast cancer, he says the patient is transferred to referral hospital for more examination to establish if it’s exactly breast cancer.

According to Paul Balinga, a senior officer in the Cancer Diseases Unit at RBC, health workers in the community have been trained on how to do clinical exams so that they can help people to seek early treatment.

He notes that they have also introduced checkups for women above 35 and men above 40 years, which is being covered by community health insurance.

“Such people are encouraged to visit a health centre at least once a year to check for NCDs, including cancers,” he says.

Balinga further notes that since people are using their community health insurance for checkups, it is easier for them to turn up in big numbers for screening and treatment because it’s affordable.

With this ongoing awareness, Uwinkindi says in future they are expecting to see a less number of people coming for treatment at an advanced stage.

Management

Meanwhile, Uwinkindi says there are three treatment options for cancer in the country which include surgery to remove the tumor, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In most of the cases, there is a combination of these three modalities to ensure comprehensive treatment.

“The purpose of all this is to make sure if the disease is not confined at the breast we prevent the spread of the cancer cells to other parts of the body,” he says.

Uwinkindi says surgery is done in all referral hospitals such as Kanombe, Butaro, King Faisal, as well as Butare Teaching Hospital. However, when it comes to chemotherapy, the services can be only found at Butaro and King Faisal Hospitals.

He also says there is ongoing construction for a full-fledged treatment unit for breast cancer at Rwanda Military Hospital in Kanombe, which is expected to be done by January next year. With this facility in place, cancer patients will be able to get all the required treatment locally, and not having to travel abroad for radiotherapy.

In cases where there is no hope for a patient to get cured, Uwinkindi says palliative care and chemotherapy are used to reduce the tumor and the pain as well.

“For patients whose breast cancer is at stage three and four, the pain is so intense, and that’s why we also provide pain control to relieve the pain,” he says.

Such patients, Uwinkindi says also need counseling, social, emotional and spiritual support for them to feel cared for.

Behavior change communications (BCC)

Mark Hadenimana,a senior officer in the Cancer Diseases Unit at RBC, says it is hard to determine the real cause of breast cancer, just like other types of cancer, apart from cervical cancer which is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). He, therefore, says there are many factors that increase the risk of one getting the disease.

For instance, Hadenimana says there are some modified factors, where a lot can be done to prevent one from getting the disease, while; on the other hand, there are unmodified factors, where nothing can be done to prevent the possibility of one getting it.

He explains that lifestyle-related factors fall under modified factors.

“We are focusing on these factors during the breast cancer awareness campaigns this month. Among them, there is excessive consumption of alcohol which is not only a risk for breast cancer but also other types of cancer. Being overweight is another factor, and here, people are being encouraged to do physical activities to reduce their weight,” he says.

One not being physically active is another risk factor, which he says, initiatives like the car-free zone come in to encourage people to engage in free physical activities that are being spearheaded by the government.

Uwinkindi also says another risk factor is a woman not having children. He explains that breasting feeding is among the preventive factors for breast cancer. “Therefore, not having children means that women won’t breastfeed, increasing their chances of developing breast cancer.”

Women who have children, on the other hand, are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed their children to avoid the risk of developing the disease, he says.

“When breastfeeding, there are some physiology changes in the body that a woman goes through which are behind developing breast cancer. When they are not highly concentrated in the body, it reduces the chances of developing breast cancer,” he says.

Additionally, Uwinkindi says another risk factor is hormonal therapy after menopause.

“When a woman is in her menopause stage, they start to undergo physical changes on their body. Because such women don’t have the hormones that help keep their body firm, some can develop low self-esteem and due to this, they resort to taking hormones that will help them maintain their young and firm figure. Such kinds of hormones are also risk factors for one to develop breast cancer,” he says.

Unmodified factors

For these factors, Uwinkindi says there is little that can be done, but he urges people to go for regular checkups to detect the presence of breast cancer so that they can be treated early if they have the disease.

Such factors include age, especially those aged above 60, as well as a history of family members who had breast cancer. Also one being a woman poses higher risk of getting breast cancer compared to their male counterparts.

Achievements and challenges

There are several medical facilities in the country that are treating cancer, among them, Butaro Hospital and referral hospitals which can carry out surgeries. According to Uwinkindi, radiotherapy treatment is expected to be in the country by early next year to provide comprehensive cancer treatment.

Also, palliative care is another achievement when it comes to managing patients with advanced stages of breast cancer, just like any other type of disease that need such services.

For diagnosis, the services are available in most of the hospitals in the country. Community checkups initiatives are also another big achievement helping a big number of people to come out for early screening, thus helping in curbing the burden of the disease.

Hadenimana says although much has been done to raise awareness, there is still more to be done to help reduce the number of those turning up for treatment at an advanced stage.

He says they are trying to look for more innovative ways that will see them reach out to more people. Hadenimana says they are partnering with different organisations and telecom companies to improve breast cancer awareness.

Challenges

Inadequate awareness is still a big challenge when it comes to breast cancer detection according to Balinga. He says quite a number of people still don’t have enough knowledge about breast cancer.

For treatment, Balinga says treatment facilities in terms of equipment and human resources are still not at a level where comprehensive treatment for breast cancer should be.

“There are also other new drugs that our patients do not have access to because they are expensive. Also people turning out for treatment at stage three and four is still a huge challenge,” he says.

Balinga says about 50 patients are being referred outside the country for further treatment by the government annually, and about 12 patients are referred outside the country a month for radiotherapy treatment.

Nigeria:World Bank – We Have Over $8.5bn Investments Scattered Across Nigeria

World Bank Group said it has an investment portfolio of about $8.5 billion scattered across states and regions in Nigeria.

The Senior Communications Officer, World Bank Nigeria, Olufunke Olufon, said this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday.

She said the investments were to assist the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory (FCT) to reduce poverty and foster prosperity.

Olufon, according to The Cable, noted that the explanation followed concerns raised by Nigerians over the comment by World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim that President Muhammadu Buhari asked the bank to shift its intervention focus to north-eastern states.

She said the bank was also working with federal and state governments, as well as development partners on speedy delivery of critical interventions to people of the north-east which urgently needs assistance.

“In 2015, the government of Nigeria requested World Bank support to respond to the humanitarian and development crisis in the north-east of Nigeria,” the statement read.

“To assess the needs of the nearly 15 million people in the region impacted by the crisis, the World Bank Group, the UN and the European Union carried out a Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA).

“And based on the findings of the assessment, World Bank’s 775 million dollars support to the north-east focuses on restoring basic education, health services, agricultural production, and livelihood improvement opportunities.”

Olufon added that the World Bank Group was doubling its resources to address fragility, conflict and violence at the subnational and national levels and help to stabilise places that were affected by high poverty and influx of people.

Nigeria

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