Posts tagged as: community

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.


Building Energy

Maria Grazia Tiballi



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 »

Aim Higher Than Eliminating Extreme Poverty, Kagame

By Collins Mwai

President Paul Kagame has said that investment in the development of human capital remain a top priority for Rwanda in a bid to empower citizens and unleash human freedoms.

Kagame was speaking at the World Bank Human Capital Summit in Washington DC as part of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund Annual meeting.

The president said that investment in human capital is a precondition of high income growth and prosperity.

Continuously developing human capital through investment in healthcare, education and creativity, he said is with the aim of turning citizens into individuals with the ability to think and act for themselves and for the benefit of their communities.

“Human capital is without doubt the driver of high-income growth and the foundation of prosperity. This is not an abstraction. We are talking about people in real terms… .. By investing in health, education, and creativity, we turn our people into individuals who have the ability to think and act, not just for themselves but also for the benefit of their communities,” he said.

It is that reasoning that Kagame said drives Rwanda to aim beyond elimination of extreme poverty to achieve prosperity and well-being for everyone.

“Unleashing human freedom and ability is a force multiplier that creates limitless potential. For that reason, I would like to challenge us all not to limit our ambitions to “eliminating extreme poverty”. That just doesn’t sound good enough. Our aim is prosperity and well-being for everyone. That is the essence of what keeps bringing us together here, time after time,” he said.

In Rwanda’s approach, government’s role in developing human capital is beyond provision of funds as it has involved ensuring a secure, stable environment.

“Government does not just provide funds, it also creates public goods through an environment of security, stability, policy predictability, and the rule of law,” the head of state said.

Filling the void of human capital created in pre-genocide Rwanda, Kagame said had enabled the country to achieve security and stability over the last 23 years.

“Twenty-three years ago, as you know, Rwanda was utterly devastated. It is no accident that human capital was a low priority in the years before the Genocide. As we worked to rebuild the nation, we had no choice but to put our people at the centre of our strategy. It was simply a question of security and survival,” the president said.

Among the top investments and efforts in development of human capital has been through ensuring access to quality education for all citizens as well as universal healthcare coverage.

Due to these efforts, over 90,000 Rwandans complete tertiary education annually while national healthcare insurance covers close to 90 per cent of the population.

“In the decades before 1994, access to secondary and higher education was a political favour subject to ethnic quotas. The country produced only about 2,000 university graduates in that period. Today, around 90,000 Rwandans complete tertiary education every year. Our national health insurance programme covers nearly 90 per cent of Rwandans, and tens of thousands of volunteer Community Health Workers are deployed across the country,” he told the audience.

This has consequently seen an 80 per cent reduction in maternal mortality and a 70 per cent reduction in infant and child mortality since the year 2000.

The government has also made equality of access and opportunity for girls and women in schools, in the workplace, and in front of the law, a cross cutting requirement further ensuring economic resilience.

Other efforts have been through rollout of broadband and expansion of technical and vocational education to ensure relevance to the labour market needs.

Other efforts by the government and stakeholders have involved setting up sector working groups constituting national agencies to coordinate Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme focused on nutrition, sanitation, and pre-school education.

As a result, the rate of stunting has dropped drastically from over half of children in 2010 to closer to one-third today with targets of reducing it further to 15 per cent by 2020.

Kagame commended the partnership between the World Bank Group and the government developing human capital saying that with the joint efforts there is optimism that targets will be achieved.

“Rwanda still has a long way to go to reach high-income status. Given our starting point, we are accustomed to difficult journeys, so there is no doubt that eventually we will get there. But we cannot derive full benefit from our natural resources or seize the opportunities of globalisation without first making the inherent potential of our people a reality,” he added.

World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim called on countries to invest in their citizens, saying that there was evidence that it would lead to a high Gross Domestic Production.

Kagame spoke alongside other leaders including World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim and Cote d’Ivoire Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly among others.

Nigeria:Worsening Gas Flaring Kills 23 in Three Delta Communities

By Owen Akenzua

Asaba — Worsening gas flaring in Ndokwa West and Ndokwa East, Obiaruku, and some parts of Effurun in Delta State, has killed no fewer than 23 persons in the last six months. Reports said the situation in the communities has worsened with the continuous emission of carbon monoxide into the environment, killing unsuspecting residents in the areas.

But it was gathered that the total gas supply from July 2015 and June 2016 stood at 363.19 billion standard cubit feet (SCF) for the domestic and export markets.

Expectedly, a breakdown of revenue from gas sales between January and February showed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) earned N944.4million from domestic sales in February.

The figures rose from N880.304million in January, while it realized $172.525 million or N14.506billion from gas export in February, compared to $1,135.89million or N27.178billion in January 2016.The report further said that 219.92billion SCF of gas was produced in February, of which 124.21billion SCF was commercialised, comprising 29.84billion SCF and 94.37billion SCF for domestic and export markets respectively.

The Guardian checks revealed that the victims died of strange diseases due to the release of carbon monoxide. However, stakeholders have projected 2030 deadline to end gas flaring globally because of its hazards, but agencies saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that oil companies comply with the rules of gas flaring appear to have failed.

Residents of oil-bearing communities in Ndokwa West for instance, have suffered untold hardship from gas flaring activities. An elder statesman in Okpai Community, Ndidi Osakwe, decried the negligence of oil companies in the area with regard to complying with the rules of gas flaring, adding that over six persons in the area had died of strange illness recently.

But the Koyenumm Malah Foundation has faulted the idea of ending gas flares in the country by the year 2030. Its Executive Director, Faith Nwadishi, told The Guardian that going by the negative effects of gas flaring on the nation’s environment and on the residents of the areas, the country does not need to wait till 2030 to stop gas flaring.

She challenged the Delta State Government to prioritise gas flaring and find a way of ending it in the state before the 2030 global deadline. Apart from the deaths, farmlands around the gas flaring areas have withered, leaving their owners in hunger, starvation and despair.

Reacting to the development, the Delta State Commissioner for Oil and Gas, Mofe Pirah, described the menace of gas flaring as pathetic and called on the Federal Government to urgently end flares in the country.


45 Boko Haram Members Convicted in Mass Trial

The individuals have received prison sentences, but the government has refused to divulge other details, such as the… Read more »

South Africa:MEC Magome Masike Commits to Build Clinic for Barolong Boo Rapulana

press release

MEC Masike Commits to build a Clinic for the Barolong Boo Rapulana

The North West MEC for Health, Dr Magome Masike has made a commitment to build a clinic for the Barolong boo Rapulana in Lotlhakane. This commitment was made in a meeting between the MEC and the Barolong boo Rapulana delegation led by Kgosi Tebogo Seatlholo. The meeting was held at the Department of Health offices today, 12 October 2017.

The Department of Labour has during the month of September closed the Lotlhakane Clinic citing that the building structure was old and thus not suitable to render health care services. The Department is busy with an infrastructure programme to replace old facilities many of which were built in the apartheid era with low quality material. Some were built by communities themselves when the then apartheid government neglected them.

Reacting to the visit by the delegation, MEC Dr Magome Masike said he appreciates that Kgosi Seatlholo was leading the delegation which proves how much he is committed to resolving the challenges in his village. He further said that the meeting was a demonstration of democracy in action.

“The Department commits to build the clinic for the community of Lotlhakane. Building of this clinic has been on our plans though we got delayed due to budget constraints. When the request was made to us in March, budget processes had already been concluded. The Department will however have to re-prioritize in order to fast-track the start of constructing the clinic within the 2017/18 financial year. I have instructed the engineer to begin the process and to look into alternative building methods that can fast-track the process”, said MEC Masike Kgosi Tebogo Seatlholo committed to assist in finding a temporary building to be used as a clinic while the Department begins the process of building a new clinic. The Department in turn committed to provide all the necessary resources including nurses once the temporary building has been found.

“I understand that Kgosi Tebogo Seatlholo and the community do not want to sit with a temporary solution for long hence I have instructed the engineer to immediately begin with the processes. We take the health needs of our people seriously”, MEC Dr Magome Masike concluded.

Issued by: North West Health

South Africa

Tsvangirai Returns From South African Hospital

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai returned home yesterday from South Africa where he was receiving treatment after… Read more »

Youth Urged On SDGs

By Hudson Kuteesa

The Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, has urged young Rwandans to see themselves as solution providers rather than sit back and only lament about problems in their communities and personal lives.

Mbabazi was speaking yesterday during a social good summit organised to hold deeper conversation on young people’s involvement and role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The forum was organised yesterday by the University of Kigali, One UN Rwanda and the Ministry of Youth.

It follows a successful ‘youth connekt’ Africa summit hosted in Kigali in July 2017 which demonstrated that youth have a major role in driving the SDGs and innovation in general.

Addressing the youths who turned up for the event, Mbabazi said that the SDGs should not be on paper only, but should be practical and help empower the youth to innovate to find solutions.

“That challenge is there for you to solve not to lament,” she said, citing examples of young entrepreneur who have come up with solutions to address various challenges in society.

“Your education should empower you to bring solutions that should impact you and the community.”

Meanwhile, the minister appealed to universities to fight plagiarism while maintaining education standards.

“If you want a nation to collapse, let universities accept cheating, or substandard work. What happens in schools will be reflected in what we will see outside of school when doctors or engineers will cheat in whatever they do and the government goals will not be reached,” she said.

She also discouraged the youth from destructive habits like drugs, human trafficking, theft, and plagiarism as she called upon them to organise themselves in cooperatives as one of the ways of initiating their own jobs instead of seeking them.

“Don’t think that cooperatives are for the youths who did not reach university. When you come together in cooperatives you can’t fail to get resources. Where there are ideas, resources follow, but where there are no ideas, no resources,” she said.

Professor Manasseh Nshuti, the chairman board of promoters of the University of Kigali urged the youth to take the SDGs as something that directly concern them.

“It is about your lives, about the lives of your children and maybe your grandchildren,” he said.

Held annually during the UN general assembly week, the social good summit unites a lively community of global citizens and progressive thought leaders around a common theme. This year, the summit focused on how to unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place.


Government to Pay Preschool Teachers

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Dutch Project Working Wonders for Dodoma Healthcare Needs

Photo: Valentine Oforo/The Citizen

Dodoma city

By Valentine Oforo

Dodoma — Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma, has had a bad history in the health care for many years.

The wellbeing of women, children and the aged have so far been affected big time.

Pregnant women have invariably faced do-or-die situations when it came to maternity issues because of severe lack of the requisite facilities, services and other amenities at the so-called health care centres.

It is a grim revelation that, as of 2013, some 186 out of 402 primary health care facilities within the Dodoma administrative region had no water supply at all – a situation which caused varied health-related difficulties, including maternal and newborn deaths.

Despite deliberate efforts by the government to effectively resolve the situation, most health facilities in the region remain in poor hygienic conditions, largely due to lack of, or poor, financial investments in water, sanitation and hygiene, among others.

Antenatal health services were very poor at many health centres in the region due to limited access to clean water – as well as lack of other key sanitation facilities like toilets, placenta pits, waste water pits and hand-washing facilities.

Such poor hygienic conditions at nearly all the health facilities in the region forced expectant mothers to carry their own water whenever they attend health centres for delivery.

Sadly enough, a more dangerous scenario was that workers at most of the health centre were forced to provide health services to the needy in the region without having the use of standard bathrooms, pit latrines, hand washing basins, placenta and gravel pits.

In that regard, the Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC) felt obliged to disburse $8,397,392 to finance implementation of a five-year ‘Maji kwa Afya ya Jamii’ Project (Mkaji), which is intended to upgrade water supply, sanitation and hygiene in Dodoma, aiming at minimising infections.

The project is being implemented by a Netherlands-based International NGO, Simavi (Steun Inzake Medische Aangelegenheden Voor Inheemschen’).

Since its inception in April 2014, the project managed to uplift the water supply, sanitation and hygiene status of more than 50 primary health care facilities in the region.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Citizen in Dodoma recently, a Medical Attendant at the Mahoma-Makulu Dispensary, which is located within Hombolo Ward, Ms Diana Ngoi, said: “Before the introduction of the Mkaji project, the health care situation here was very poor.

Most women in the rural areas suffered a lot. Some lost their lives or lost their babies due to infections related to the poor hygienic situation in those days.”

In those early days before Mkaji, Ms Ngoi recalls: “The situation was pathetic. Pregnant women who delivered children here could not even take bath after delivery because there was neither water nor bathrooms.

She added: “Also, we had no recommended means of managing placentas from the women who delivered here.”

She disclosed that the Mahoma-Makulu Dispensary receives an average of 17 antenatal women a month.

Ms Ngoi said the placentas after delivering were just thrown into the nearest dustbin, which is not right.

“The situation posed diverse challenges. For example, poor management of placentas from delivery operations was unhygienic, leading to uncontrolled infections,” she stated.

The situation has somewhat improved at the Hombolo Health Centre with the Mkaji Project playing a significant role in improving health services at the place – especially for expectant mothers and their newborn.

Commenting on the matter, Ms Tupokigwe Masako – another woman found by The Citizen working at the place said: “When I came to for delivery here for the first time, the requisite services were not available.

“Clearly, there have been some laudable improvements. There is a bathroom now, a working water system and placenta pits,” she said.

The ongoing Mkaji Project is being implemented by a consortium of partners, which include ‘Ufundi na Uhandisi Kongwa’ (Ufundiko); Pamoja Tujenge Tanzania (Patuta), Community-Based Health-Care Council (CBHCC) and Witteveen Bos, an international engineering consultancy.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Citizen, the MKAJI Programme Manager, Ms. Thea Bongertman, said the project has already managed to impart key hygiene and sanitation knowledge to different health workers and held training on operation and maintenance, and water and financial management to villagers.

This was meant to ensure sustainability of the project’s gains after it is phased out in March, 2019.

“Water and Sanitation (Wash) is one of the most important social determinants of health,” Ms Bongertman explained.

“Upon request of the Local Government Authorities of Dodoma region, SDC, working in partnership with Simavi, took action to improve the quality of public health services provision by reducing the potential risks of transmission of communicable diseases and infections during routine patient care and treatment so as to improve health services delivery – specifically maternal health care and services – by improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene.”

For his part, the Dodoma Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Charles Kiologwe appreciated the contribution of the project in improving the status of hygiene in many of the centres in the region.

“To be honest, Mkaji is among the few health projects in Dodoma that have to a great extent played a key role in elevating the regions’ health delivery status, especially for mothers and children,” he said.

The Mkaji Project in Dodoma region can be traced to the research in 2013 by the Health Project Systems Strengthening (HPSS) programme, which was also under the auspicious SDC, and which established that most health facilities in Dodoma were in poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, mainly due to lack of water supply.

Simavi was founded in 1925 by two Dutch medical doctors, Dr John Van der Spek and Dr H. Bervoets. Their aim was to provide medical assistance for health institutions in the former Dutch East Indies.

Ever since, Simavi has been working to improve standards of health in developing countries across the globe.

Kenya:Kenya Awards Firms Licence to Drill for Natural Gas

By Kennedy Senelwa

Zarara Oil & Gas Ltd will start drilling two wells of natural gas after Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (Nema) approved environmental licences for well sinking on Pate Island off the coast in Lamu.

This is in line with the government’s plan to expedite commercial gas production for power generation.

The company has been set strict deadlines by the Ministry of Energy to start drilling Pate 2 by the end of the year and later Pate 3 as the government wants to reduce the country’s dependence on expensive hydro and thermal power.

Tanzania — which has discovered 57.6 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas both onshore and offshore — is the only country in East Africa using natural gas to generate power and plans to use the commodity for fertiliser production.

Zarara’s licences will run until July 2019. It is a subsidiary of Midway Resources International. Nema’s director-general Geoffrey Wahungu said Zarara is required to undertake exploratory drilling at an estimated cost of $159 million.


Sinking of Pate 2 well is expected to take 120 days to drill. Zarara said it has started mobilising Greatwall Drilling Company Ltd’s drilling rig, which is already in the country. North Sea Well Engineering Ltd of Norway is the design and planning company.

Kenya Oil and Gas Working Group (KOGWG) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have rolled out a programme to manage the expectations of the local community in Lamu to avoid the Pate project being abandoned by the investor.

KOGWG’s Network Co-ordinator Muturi Kamau said communities from Lamu and Pate Island are being informed about the benefits of Zarara’s exploration activities especially in generating electricity from the gas.

“The community is being trained on mitigating perceived risks and engaging in alternative dispute resolution mechanism to avoid confrontations as excess demands can scare away an investor,” said Mr Kamau.

Pate Marine Community Conservancy (PMCC) said they fear the livelihoods of farmers growing mangoes, maize, vegetables and coconuts could be affected by the drilling of natural gas wells.

“We are worried about what will happen to farmers whose land is next to the drilling site of the wells. A commercial discovery could affect the lifestyle of the people,” said PMCC chairman Mohammed Hussein.


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Zimbabwe: National Aids Council to Launch Cancer Awareness Programme

By Chipo Sabeta

National Aids Council (NAC) is set to launch cancer training, screening and management programme in all the seven districts of Mashonaland West Province. This is aimed at accelerating the fight against non-communicable diseases in both children and adults. In an interview, NAC Mashonaland West provincial manager Mr Agrippa Zizhou said it was the relationship between cancer and HIV that prompted them to prioritise cancer awareness going into 2018.

“Zimbabwe is among the 30 highly burdened countries in the world in terms of HIV and tuberculosis, including non-communicable diseases (NCD),” he said. “Cancer is emerging as a major public health concern in Zimbabwe. Cancer is one of the four major NCDs, together with Cardio vascular diseases, Diabetes mellitus and chronic respiratory diseases. And as part of our mandate, NAC will educate health workers, the community and women in particular.” Mr Zizhou said areas of focus included community sensitisation, linking service provision and demand, health literacy, advocacy, research and spread community awareness on cancer.

“The Cancer Awareness, Screening and Treatment Project is in line with the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s mission to address the needs of our community so that the people can fully attain their health potential, appreciate health as a valuable asset and take positive actions to further improve and sustain their health status,” he said. Mr Zizhou said once diagnosed of cancer, most people become uncertain about the future. The programme, he said, will address the emotional turmoil and equip people with an accurate roadmap towards obtaining optimal medical intervention.

According to NAC, 75 percent of cancer cases are unknown, while the remainder is genetically inherited or a result of genetic mutation, genetic-environmental interaction, environmental-chemicals and lifestyle factors, ionising radiation, infections and drugs. Mr Zizhou said NAC would continue to fine-tune its programme’s blueprint, which is aimed at addressing the real health needs of under-resourced communities. This, he said, would be anchored on partnerships with other organisations.

“Some types of cancer occur in patients with Aids. These are called Aids defining cancers, including Karposi Sarcoma, cervical cancer and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In cancer awareness campaigns, we target women because of the risk factors of cervical cancer that is caused by the Human Papilloma virus,” said Mr Zizhou

Some cancers are caused by factors such as having sex at an early age, multiple and concurrent sexual partners, sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), including HIV and Aids. Other factors include harmful cultural practices such as insertion of herbs into private parts, family history of cervical cancer, dietary factors — including low levels of vitamin A, C and folic acid, tobacco use in all its forms and failure to receive cervical cancer screening and vaccination.


1 000kg of Gold Lost to Smuggling

Zimbabwe is losing an estimated 1 000kg of gold annually through side marketing and illicit flows. Reserve Bank of… Read more »

Nigeria:OLX Site Recorded N12.1 Trillion Online Transactions in 2016

By Emma Okonji

OLX, a leading online classifieds site in Nigeria, has released the report of the total number of second-hand items and their value, that were traded on its online site in 2016, saying a total of 1,122,001 second-hand items were posted for sale on the site last year valued at N12.1 trillion.

OLX, which commenced business in Nigeria in 2012, operates an online classifieds site, which offers Nigerians the platform to trade second-hand items, especially household items and personal effects.

The survey report about transactions between sellers and buyers on the OLX platform in Nigeria, was released for the first time in commemoration of its 5th anniversary, to showcase trends within the local second-hand market from last year.

The report revealed the number and value of second-hand items posted on the OLX site last year, which turned out to be huge and almost twice the market capital for some online sites.

The report also indicated the power of the second-hand market offering in Nigeria by revealing that over one million items were posted for sale last year, which equates to one item being up for grabs every 30 seconds on the OLX site.

Commenting on the report, the Country Manager, OLX, Lola Masha, said: “OLX currently receives over 2.8 million visits a month and we are anticipating a growth in this figure over the upcoming months. This report reflects Nigerians awareness of the second-hand value in their possessions.”

According to her, “The report takes a closer look at each category revealing some exciting figures about Nigeria’s second-hand market. For example, the monetary value of mobile phones posted on OLX in 2016 is over N6.5 trillion, which is equivalent to four and a half of the world’s largest gold bars, whilst the value of the home, furniture and garden category on OLX is N44.3 billion.”

“The most expensive mobile phone posted on the site was a Nokia Vertu for N950,000, whilst the most expensive vehicle was a pre-owned 2015 Private Jet Bombardier valued at N5.5 billion, which is equivalent to the average salary of the top five Nigerian footballers,” Masha said.

“The report not only shows the enormous value of the second-hand market but also demonstrates the positive impact online classifieds has on the Nigerian economy. This is a concrete demonstration of the OLX brand essence ‘Everybody wins’, as sellers win when they sell items they no longer need at lower prices, and buyers also win when they buy items at great discounts and the community wins as the trade leads to increased circulation of cash in the local economy,” Masha added.

The OLX Group operates a network of online trading platforms in over 40 countries. It builds market leading classifieds marketplaces that empower millions of people to buy, sell and create prosperity in local communities.

With over 300 million monthly users worldwide, OLX Group makes it fast and easy to buy and sell almost anything online, such as household goods, phones, cars and houses. Through consumer brands including Avito, dubizzle, letgo, among others, more than 10 million items are listed on its market-leading apps and platforms every single month.

Zimbabwe: Govt Committed to Investment in ICTs

columnBy Supa Mandiwanzira

WE meet once again under the umbrella of the ITU, to share experiences, reminisce over progress of the ICT Sector for the four years gone by, consider programmes and strategies and ultimately set a trajectory for ICT Growth, Development and Integration, in the next four-year cycle, for the betterment of mankind. This is Indeed a noble task for a good cause.

Zimbabwe cherishes WTDC-2017 as a landmark, global Conference, as it is the first such forum to take place after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is, therefore, without doubt that “ICT for Sustainable Development Goals” — ICT, SDGs — is a befitting theme for this WTDC. Zimbabwe will work with fellow delegates in crafting strategies and action plans that can push the Global Community towards the attainment of the SDGs by 2030 and, in the process, deliver a better-connected world over the next four years.

As we look up towards the next developmental cycle, we need to cast our eyes into the rear view mirror and take note of what was achieved under the Dubai Action Plan of 2014. Our own assessment is that a lot was done and milestones were achieved, particularly in the areas of Capacity Building, ICTs for Disaster Management and Climate Adaptation, Digital Inclusion, Telemedicine and Spectrum Management, to name just a few. To this end I would like to sincerely thank the ITU for the assistance we received for the implementation of a Telemedicine Project involving the connection of 12 clinics in remote rural areas, two district hospitals, a provincial hospital and, at the apex, a referral medical centre, to each other.

The project is crucial to Zimbabwe, as it improves access and delivery of medical services to hitherto underserved remote and rural areas, and moves Zimbabwe closer to attaining Universal Health Coverage and indeed, the SDG goal on Good Health and wellbeing. Apart from the Telemedicine Project, we have also registered great success in the area of access and accessibility. We have installed over 200 Community Information Centres, 80 of them in 2016 alone, at post Offices across the Country.

These CICs, as we call them, serve as contemporary public amenities providing local communities with access to high speed Internet, printing and other related services, at sub-commercial and affordable rates. The CICs have brought access to all genders in Zimbabwe, particularly in the rural areas, thereby making progress in bridging the digital divide and ensuring gender equality, in terms of access, in line with the SDGs on Gender equality and the goal on reducing inequalities.

We are also continuously implementing the schools digitisation programme. Currently, we are connecting, 1 300 schools, to the Internet. We have noted with delight, that we are on course to achieving the goal on quality education. The high literacy levels in Zimbabwe, are evidence of our robust education policy aided by ICTs. These efforts have seen increased use of ICTs in underserved areas by all genders and our people are becoming digital natives.

The groundwork has already been completed for a major ICT infrastructure project, involving the construction of over 500 units of towers and extension of the national backbone fibre network, across the country.

This will result in a massive roll-out of broadband to all corners of the Country. With regards to the SDG on elimination of hunger, the ICT sector has partnered with the Agricultural Sector, by conveying information on farming inputs, weather, transport details and offering insurance related applications, for the success of Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture Programme.

This has seen Zimbabwe’s grain reserves for the staple grain hit the one million tonne mark and are expected to exceed the usual requirements for the country. No one will go hungry in the Country. We are leaving no stone unturned, in ensuring that together with the rest of the ITU community, we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

With regards to the Agenda of this Conference, we are pleased to note that the WTDC-17 will consider matters and challenges that are crucial to all regions of the world — Africa included. As emerging technologies, applications and trends including, Network Cloudification, Big Data; Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, IMT 2020; rise up the horizon, it is rather tempting, for us to run with the mill forgetting to carry along with us, that which we could not accomplish in the last developmental cycle. A case on point, is the need to do more on bridging the gender divide.

Indeed, it is true that a lot of effort has been exerted in this area and considerable success has been achieved, but the numbers are not yet good enough. We have to scale up our efforts to connect the remaining unconnected. We believe that there is greater scope for closer cooperation between those with developed economies and those with developing economies. In addressing this undesirable phenomenon my message here, is that, in this Global Village, let us join hands and efforts in connecting the unconnected — it is our responsibility and it is our obligation!

The Republic of Zimbabwe is committed to the work of the ITU and will continue to do so in future by rendering support in the form of human resources and other forms of support where we have competencies. It is in that regard that Zimbabwe is honoured to nominate one of ITU’s own to the post of ITU Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau at the next Plenipotentiary Conference. This an excerpt from the address by Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Supa Mandiwanzira to the International Telecommunications Union World Telecommunications Development Conference underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina, yesterday.

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