Posts tagged as: united

Zimbabwe: Telecoms Regulatory Body Mulls Licencing Virtual Network Operators

By John Kachembere

The Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is finalising licence guidelines for virtual network operators, opening the door for a new class of players who will act like retailers for telecom service providers.

Zimbabwe currently has three mobile network operators, Econet Wireless, Telecel Zimbabwe and NetOne and one fixed telecommunication operator, Telone.

Africom and Powertel are data networks operating limited mobile telecommunication services.

Government has, however, been under pressure to license new players such as South Africa’s MTN to allow for increased competition and improved services to subscribers.

POTRAZ said the country has limited spectrum to license new telecommunication companies and was working on various ways to accommodate new entrants into the sector.

“The current licensing regime is being reviewed to allow virtual network operators (VNOs) to participate in the sector, thereby opening up the sector to more players at the downstream level. This is meant to boost innovation and competition through adoption of open access policies,” POTRAZ director general, Gift Machengete, told The Financial Gazette.

A virtual network operator is a wireless communications service provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.

According to international practices, the operator enters into a business agreement with an existing mobile network operator to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, and then sets retail prices independently.

A virtual network operator may use its own customer service, billing support systems, marketing, and sales personnel, or it could employ the services of a mobile virtual network enabler.

Telecommunication experts assert that the entry of VNOs is expected to push down the cost of providing telecommunication services.

Machengete said the licensing of VNOs would also result in the country’s data tariffs significantly coming down.

Zimbabwe currently has one of the highest data tariffs in the region.

“We do believe that such VNOs and mobile virtual network operators will not only bring in additional competition to the market but will also bring about the much needed innovation and customer-centric service provision,” he said.

Mobile virtual network operators’ agreements with network operators date back to the 1990s, when the European telecoms market saw market liberalisation, new regulatory frameworks, better 2G network technology, and a subsequent jump in wireless subscriber numbers.

To date, there are over 1 017 virtual network operators across the world, with Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Australia, Denmark, Spain, Poland, Belgiumand Japan leading the way.

South African telecommunications expert, Themba Napakade, however, said government’s proposal to license VNOs would prejudice local mobile network operators that have already invested heavily in the sector.

“There is a case for mobile virtual network operators in a market that is saturated and developed, but then the case of developing countries, like Zimbabwe where you still battle to even get a proper signal and 2G or 3G let alone LTE, it does not make business sense for the operators to spend a lot of money and allow another entrant that will come in and disrupt their operations,” said Napakade, who runs a telecommunications consultancy in South Africa.

He pointed out that since virtual network operators do not own or invest in infrastructure such as the telecoms switches, radio network and signalling equipment, base stations, ancillary power infrastructure, rating engines and the human locator registers, the central repositories of all users or subscribers of an telecoms operator, they would prejudice those who have already invested.

Businesses Urged to Make the Most of 2017 Trade Fair

By James Karuhanga

Local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are looking forward to tapping into the potential presented by the upcoming International Trade Fair.

The two-week event is in its 20th edition, with organisers promising a better and bigger fair to celebrate the two-decade milestone.

More than 500 exhibitors from about 20 countries will show case their products at the event which begins Tuesday next week.

According to the Minister for Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, Expo 2017 is also an opportunity for businesses to learn from each other as well as establish partnerships.

“The expo is also a very good way of giving foreign investors information about potential investment opportunities in Rwanda,” Kanimba said.

He was speaking during a breakfast media briefing.

The trade fair, that takes place at the Gikondo Expo Grounds in Kigali, is organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

The exhibitors will feature products in various sectors including ICT, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, finance, and banking as well as home appliances and furniture.

PSF will facilitate Business-to-Business meetings between local investors to foreign counterparts for potential partnerships.

According to PSF Chairman Benjamin Gasamagera, a consortium of Indian ICT investors will attend the event with the aim of seeking local partners in several sectors.

Also set to be highlighted will be a unique affordable housing project introduced by Skat Consulting Rwanda, a Kigali-based Swiss firm supporting the Rwandan construction industry.

Among the countries that will be represented are; United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Canada, Iran, Pakistani, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana, USA, India and the East African Community (EAC) member states.

Stephen Ruzibiza, the PSF chief executive, noted that the expo is an opportunity for exhibitors to get new business ideas and learn new innovations.

Rwanda wants to use the expo to market its locally made products and build confidence among consumers about local brands.

More than 300,000 people are expected to attend the Trade Fair.

Rwanda

Kagame to Be Sworn in Today

President Paul Kagame will take oath of office, Friday, officially marking the start of a new seven-year term. Read more »

Tanzania: Funfairs As Lucky Vincent Accident Survivors Jet in Today

By Deus Ngowi

Arusha — THREE Standard VII survivors of Lucky Vincent Primary School bus accident return home today from the US as their fate in the national examinations hangs in balance.

The Rhotia Hill accident in Karatu district last May claimed 35 lives. Speaking on behalf of doctors and teachers, Singida North Member of Parliament Lazaro Nyalandu who coordinated the mission to the United States said it was decided the exam issue be sorted out after the trio had arrived in the country.

A former Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Nyarandu said the students — Doreen Mshana, Saida Ismail and Wilson Tarimo, who had been undergoing rehabilitation at Mercy Hospital will be looked at on several factors, one being their psychological status, before deciding on their exams.

He said while in the US, the students received tuitions and were issued with several books from Tanzania but said it was important to note that they spent a lot of time in physiotherapies. “As you know, they were in the US for physical therapy but also had time to get tuition and had enough books at their disposal.

Stakeholders, including their doctors and teachers discussed the issue of national exams and if they will be ready for it. But, we decided against making any conclusion pending a psychological assessment at home and after visiting their school for the first time since the tragedy,” said Mr Nyalandu.

The students are expected at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) at 0900hrs today. The team managed to secure the same DC 8 plane from Samaritan Purse, an organisation run by the family of a Southern Baptist minister, Billy Graham.

Upon arrival, there will be festivities and the children, accompanied by their doctors and parents, will head to Stem Village, a half an hour drive from KIA where they will stay for at least 24 hours.

Mr Nyalandu said the survivors had over 30 fractures, hinting that Doreen who endured great pains on her backbone had to be taken for extra medication and exercise at Roland Madonna House in Sioux City LA.

The victim was offered free medical treatment at the Centre where a patient pays at least 50,000 US dollars (over 100m/- upon registration. He said there would be several specialists in Tanzania from the US, with some having jetted in the country already.

There will also be two rescuers — Jenifer and Calvin. Along with Dr Steve Meyer, who led the surgeries, the foreign doctors were on their way from Ngorongoro and became the first to arrive at the accident scene.

Tanzania

Opposition MP Urges President Magufuli to Emulate Kenyatta

Arusha Urban MP (Chadema) Godbless Lema has called on President John Magufuli to borrow a leaf from Kenyan counterpart… Read more »

Akombe Slams Unwarranted Claims About Her U.S. Trip

By Jeremiah Wakaya

Nairobi — Commissioner Roselyn Akombe has dismissed claims that she was fleeing out of the country on Wednesday night as a result of queries raised on the credibility of the recently concluded General Election.

The election official who was temporarily denied clearance to travel to the United States at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for lack of a clearance letter from the Head of Public Service, a requirement for all public officials travelling abroad, termed the claims she was dashing away from the country as false and unwarranted.

“While it is unfortunate that my departure was delayed, I at no time indicated that I am fleeing my beloved Kenya due to questions raised about the credibility of our electoral process,” the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) executive said in a statement to newsrooms Wednesday night.

She assured the nation that she will be back in the country as soon as she concludes her tour of duty to the United States.

“I am on official duty to the United States and will return to continue working with my colleagues on the next stages of our electoral process,” Akombe stated.

IEBC’s press office tweeted on Wednesday that officials at the JKIA responsible for the commissioner’s delay had indeed apologised and that Akombe will be back in the country on Sunday.

Kenya

Opposition to Challenge Kenyatta’s Victory at the Supreme Court

History is repeating itself. Once more, just like in 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his arch rival, Mr Raila Odinga,… Read more »

Nigeria: Halt Lassa Fever in Its Tracks

Lassa fever, one of this country’s most dreaded contagious diseases, recently resurfaced in several states all at once. It made a deadly appearance at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital where two patients died and 15 others have been infected. Lassa fever virus is known to be transmitted to human beings who eat food items contaminated with faeces or urine of rodents, mainly infected rats. Afterwards, any person who has physical contact with a Lassa fever infected person could also be infected. In this way it spreads faster than most other dangerous viruses, perhaps second only to Ebola.

First identified in Lassa community in Borno State in 1969, each time Lassa fever resurfaces in Nigeria, we are reminded of our half-hearted and cosmetic approach to problems which provides the fertile environment for them to germinate and spread out in more ferocious ways. For instance, in 2012 when its outbreak confounded the country with 70 deaths and 623 cases in 19 Northern states, the concern over its spread generated the alarm that should have spurred government and researchers in the health sciences to work on a formidable response to the disease. But we did not. In 2016, the country recorded another alarming outbreak. The World Health Organisation [WHO] said that 273 cases were recorded that year, including 149 deaths in 23 states of the federation.

In reaction to the frequent outbreaks of Lassa fever, the Federal Government set up the Lassa Fever Eradication Committee in January 2016 headed by a former President of the Nigeria Academy of Sciences, Professor Oyewale Tomori. The committee, in collaboration with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control [NCDC] was supposed to produce a roadmap for the control and prevention of Lassa fever in Nigeria. However, it is not clear what came out of the committee’s work. That is why the recent outbreak has caused panic all over the country, especially the fact that some medical personnel who attended to the patients at LUTH also became infected with the virus.

It is very unfortunate that in Nigeria, there is only one Lassa fever diagnostic centre, which is the Lassa Fever Research and Control Centre, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo State. For a deadly disease like Lassa fever this is unacceptable because in other climes, government would have set aside enough funds for research into, not just Lassa fever’s diagnosis but its cure and containment. By now there should have been many such centres spread out in most if not all states of the federation. Though WHO says the disease is prevalent in West Africa, Lassa fever occurs most frequently in Nigeria. It is therefore imperative for this country to take the lead in the effort to find a lasting solution to it.

We call on the government and the Ministry of Health to work towards setting up Lassa fever diagnostic centres in all tertiary hospitals across the country. The least should be a diagnostic centre in each of the geopolitical zones in the country. Lassa fever is not restricted to one part of Nigeria. Recent reports say the outbreak has occurred in the North-West, North-East, South-West and South-South states. Taking blood samples from North-East all the way to Edo State for laboratory tests takes much time, enough time for the disease to kill patients and also spread to many people who innocently have contact with a Lassa fever infected patient, including health workers.

Apart from diagnostic centres, government should vigorously educate Nigerians on the need to maintain a clean environment which does not attract rats and other rodents. Cleanliness is a habit and proper education at the grassroots, even in slums in urban areas, would help greatly. Government must not watch Nigerians die cheaply from deadly but preventable diseases every now and then.

Nigeria

Police, Judges Highest Bribe-Takers, Says UN Agency

From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has come a revelation that about N400 billion is spent on bribes each… Read more »

Nigeria: Chukwuebuka Seeks N12 Million to Undergo Kidney Transplant

By Maria Diamond and Silver Nwokoro

The specialist doctors at the Nnamdi Azikwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra State, have recommended a kidney transplant for 20-year-old Chukwuebuka Peter Umechiedo.

Umechiedo, who is a native of Ezinifite in Aguata Local Council of Anambra, was diagnosed of a kidney problem in 2016 and has since then been managed for an end-state renal disease.

According to the patient, he has been on dialysis since 2016 that costs his family ₦70,000 every 10 days and he is the only child of his indigent parents. The young man who has been clinging to life has been on a weekly maintenance haemodialysis to stabilise his health, but has now been recommended by his doctors for kidney transplant as the best form of renal replacement therapy at an estimated cost of ₦12 million.

Now financially drained and with the Anambra State government promising to contribute ₦2 million, which is approximately, 20 per cent of the total cost, he is left with no option than to appeal for funds from well-meaning Nigerians, public and private organisations, and humanitarian groups to save his life by going for the operation. His details are First Bank, Chukwuebuka Peter Umechiedo, 3095994904. He can be reached on 08168865089

Nigeria

Police, Judges Highest Bribe-Takers, Says UN Agency

From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has come a revelation that about N400 billion is spent on bribes each… Read more »

Queries Raised After Roselyne Akombe is Detained at Airport

By Walter Menya, Fred Mukinda

Questions are being raised as to why top electoral agency commissioner Roselyne Akombe was temporarily detained at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Dr Akombe was reportedly prevented from boarding a KLM flight to New York on Tuesday night. The plane was to leave at 10pm, according to JKIA contacts.

It took the intervention of the US embassy in Nairobi to have Dr Akombe released from custody. She was then transferred to the government pavilion at the airport.

By 8am Wednesday, reports indicated that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission official was still being held at the airport, though IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo told the Nation that Dr Akombe later travelled on a Kenya Airways flight.

IEBC confirmed the detention of Dr Akombe but appeared to downplay the incident, terming it “a delay”.

“Dr Akombe who was travelling to the US for an official meeting was delayed at JKIA by officials who have since apologised. She returns on Sunday,” the commission said on its Twitter handle.

The same message was shared with IEBC staff on the internal communication forum.

FLIGHT DELAYED

“Flights get delayed almost daily. If it is just a delay, why is it necessary to inform workers? So many other commissioners have had their flights delayed for one reason or another and we have never been informed. There is something more to this delay,” an IEBC insider told the Nation.

The government, however, said the standoff was because Dr Akombe had not been cleared to travel outside the country by Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua.

Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said it was a requirement for a public officer to get clearance from Mr Kinyua before travelling out of Kenya.

“The IEBC commissioner has proceeded on her travel after being cleared. There is a code of regulation for public servants and officers. It affects even those in independent commissions because they are not private companies,” Mr Njoka said.

MEDIA INTERVIEWS

However, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori disputed the explanation given for Dr Akombe’s flight hitch.

“Independent offices and constitutional commissions are autonomous. A commissioner or a worker in a commission does not need clearance from the head of public service,” Ms Mbogiri said.

“We are not privy to what happened in that particular case. Our comment for now is just that.”

The Nation established that Dr Akombe had presented a clearance letter but officials at the Immigration desk noticed it authorised her to travel to the United Arab Emirates between July 27 and July 30.

She was part of the delegation that visited Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing company Dubai, which had been awarded the contract to print the General Election ballot papers and results declaration forms.

When the news of Dr Akombe’s ordeal at JKIA surfaced, the social media was awash with rumours, with many questioning why she was leaving just after the General Election.

POLITICS

“Due to the prevailing political situation, Kenyans rushed to connect the incident to politics,” Mr Njoka said.

Some independent sources said the commissioner may have been fearing for her life after being on some powerful people’s radar regarding the August 8 elections.

Apart IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and CEO Ezra Chiloba, Dr Akombe has been the most visible commissioner, taking part in media interviews and engaging with political and civil society stakeholders.

She was also the master of ceremonies on August 11 as the commission declared the presidential results at the Bomas of Kenya.

FLEEING

Later, Dr Akombe issued a statement denying she was fleeing the country.

“I’m deeply concerned by the statements attributed to me on my departure from Nairobi. They are false and unwarranted. While it is unfortunate that my departure was delayed, I at no time indicated that I was fleeing my beloved country due to questions raised on the credibility of our elections,” she said.

She said she was on official duty in the US and would be back soon.

“I will return to continue working with my colleagues on the next stages of our electoral process,” she said.

Nigeria: Distribution of Expired Seeds, Inputs Will Affect Harvest – Farmers

By Balarabe Alkassim

Bauchi — Women farmers in Bauchi State have raised concerns about the distribution of expired agricultural inputs that may hinder bumper harvest envisaged under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.

The women expressed concern in a communiqué issued at the end of a one day budget tracking meeting of women farmers organised by Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative, Bauchi, in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria.

They also identified late distribution of inputs like high yielding seeds, fertilisers and insecticides as other major factors that could frustrate farmers’ efforts to boost both rain-fed and dry season farming in the state.

Some of the women, Rifkatu Magaji from Warji Local Government Area and Rhoda Haruna from Bogoro Local Government Area, who spoke at the meeting, said that some of the seeds distributed in their communities were not high yielding varieties.

They said crops that were slated for maturity within three months might take longer to mature.

Other women farmers re-echoed their earlier request for the training and retraining of more extension workers while those already on ground in the communities should be given logistic support to advise farmers on modern farming methods.

While speaking on the agricultural loan scheme, most of the women complained that delay in the disbursement of loans which was always granted farmers in July as against March/April was also hampering farmers’ efforts to purchase all the necessary inputs on time.

Nigeria

Police, Judges Highest Bribe-Takers, Says UN Agency

From the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has come a revelation that about N400 billion is spent on bribes each… Read more »

FKF to Organise More International Tournaments for U13

By Kennedy Motari

Nairobi — Following a successful outing by the Kenya football U13 team in United Kingdom where they featured in the Southampton Shield Cup, Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Technical Director Andres Spier affirmed they will organise more local and international tournaments to give the young talents exposure.

Spie, who was in charge of the team, asserted that apart from competing and winning the inaugural Southampton Shield Cup tournament, they have learned a lot in terms of player development and importance of tapping talent at a tender age.

“Under 13 Is a golden age of learning and a perfect age to start training players since its in this age bracket that a player can easily develop. From now moving forward we want to constantly have such activities where we organise such tournaments with them (under 13 team) in order to keep them together, “Spie added.

Since Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) stopped giving exposure to the U13s and U17s where they used to play in the Norway Super Cup annually, this is the first time FKF has taken the initiative in their bid to scout a team that will represent Kenya at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Among players who benefited from the MYSA initiative is Harambee Stars shot-stopper Arnold Origi who plies his trade in Norway after being scouted from the tournament.

Spie believes that it is in providing the young players with international exposure that the national football team Harambee Stars will be at par with world heavy weights in football.

“This is a great opportunity for talented players from all over the country to have this kind of exposure as early as possible in their careers. Previously it has only been a select few from the rich academies because they can afford it. Now an open opportunity has been presented,” FKF head of Youth Football, Chris Ammo told Capital Sport in a past interview.

FKF had named the 20 man squad in August after receiving an invitation by Southampton earlier in April to field the U13 football team at the tournament. The competition brought together over 40 teams around the world.

Southampton seeks to make the tournament a regular fixture in the calendar for youth football club around the world by making the tournament an annual eight day tournament.

Kenya

Opposition to Challenge Kenyatta’s Victory at the Supreme Court

History is repeating itself. Once more, just like in 2013, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his arch rival, Mr Raila Odinga,… Read more »

Kenya Cribs Finland’s Solution to Baby Deaths

The Finns’ cardboard box prompts an African graduate to develop a life-saving device for babies

When Lucy Kaigutha read about a Finnish tradition that dates back to the 1930s, she was struck by a thought: Could the Scandinavians have a tool that would save the lives of newborn babies in Africa, in her native Kenya? Could a simple cardboard box doubling as a bed keep a baby safe in the first months?

“I remembered a student field trip to Marachi village in northern Kenya. There was a mum with a two-week-old baby who didn’t have much to take care of this child,” says Kaigutha, a graduate in public health and international development. “[It] really moved me. And I thought maybe I could also come up with a box, but one that will help mothers and babies in our poor areas.”

For that is what Finland’s welfare state has been doing for decades: giving every expectant mother a brightly coloured, sturdy cardboard box that is 74cm long, 43cm wide and 27cm high. It comes with a small mattress to turn it into a bed, and also sheets and clothes.

The box serves as an incentive to pregnant women to visit maternity clinics: only women who have a pregnancy certificate confirming that they had a health examination before the fifth month of their pregnancy receive a box.

Studies have shown that the earlier a pregnant woman visits a maternity clinic, the better the chances are that doctors will be able to save her baby, should something go wrong during her pregnancy.

As many women have more than one child, and therefore already have a box, they can also choose to rather receive a maternity allowance of about R2 200. But, according to Finland’s health department, only about a third of mothers choose the money.

Government statistics for 2014 show that 99.6% of Finland’s pregnant women visited maternity clinics before the fifth month of their pregnancy.

The country also has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world – two deaths in 1 000 live births of babies before their first birthday, data from the World Bank shows. This is a remarkable drop from the end of the 1930s, when nearly every 10th child born in Finland died under the age of one, according to Statistics Finland.

In comparison, South Africa’s infant mortality rate is 35 in 1 000 live births, according to the 2015/2016 Health Barometer. World Bank statistics show Kenya’s is 36 in 1 000.

Baby boxes go global

In July last year, after consulting midwives, nurses and mothers, Kaigutha used crowdfunding for the Toto Care Box.

“It is a crib for the first three months, but the box also comes with 18 essential items that protect the baby in its first 28 days,” Kaigutha explains.

This includes a waterproof mattress, baby clothes, a blanket and a mosquito net. The container looks like any brown storage box, although it boasts the bright Toto Care logo.

But these boxes are sturdy and specially commissioned from young men from poor areas, Kaigutha says.

The idea of baby boxes has spread across the world. Health professionals and local authorities have run pilot projects or adopted the boxes in efforts to cut infant deaths and to help poor parents. Businesses have caught on to the idea and are selling bumper designer versions to the well-heeled and trendy – the Baby Box Co offers a deluxe, if still cardboard, style stacked with products for $449.

In South Africa, a plastic baby box is being studied and trialled by the department of economics at Stellenbosch University and the health department is investigating a maternity package linked to baby boxes.

Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, India and Canada all have local variations of the maternity package and in the United Kingdom, where government statistics show there are four infant deaths in 1 000 live births, health chiefs in several hospitals have started giving the boxes to new families.

The Scottish government has confirmed all babies born on August 15 or after will get a box with essentials as a “welcome gift” and to help tackle deprivation. The box acts as a Moses basket, according to information on the Scottish government website, and is a safe and comfortable place for babies to sleep.

Simple solution may not stave off Sids deaths

But the Lullaby Trust, a British charity that provides sleeping advice and works to cut sudden infant death syndrome (Sids), has warned there is no evidence to suggest the use of the boxes will cut the risk of infant mortality caused by Sids.

“We support all efforts to promote safer sleep for babies,” explains Francine Bates, chief executive of the charity, in a statement. “However, we do have concerns about the baby boxes being marketed as products which will reduce infant mortality and Sids.”

The Lullaby Trust has also expressed concern about whether the boxes comply fully with safety standards because there is no “specific standard for the use of a cardboard box as a sleeping place for an infant”.

The Finnish government itself has cautioned that Finland’s low infant mortality rate has many contributing factors. The maternity package may not have had a direct effect on reducing infant mortality, Tuovi Hakulinen and Mika Gissler of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland said in a recent blog.

“It is difficult to study what the impact of the maternity package actually is, because it has been in use for decades and everyone who wants it can have it,” Hakulinen and Gissler write.

A box with a history

It is important to understand the history of the maternal package, says Karoliina Koskenvuo, head of the research team at the social security service, Kela.

In the early 1900s, Finland was a poor agrarian society in which social support was available mainly from family, church and the local poor relief system, Koskenvuo writes on Kela’s website.

“Major public health challenges included the low standard of living and general hygiene, tuberculosis, epidemics and a high rate of infant and child mortality,” Koskenvuo explains.

It is against this background that Finland established maternity and child welfare clinics, expanded the healthcare system and the hospital network, launched vaccination programmes and raised the standard of living and education.

The maternity package was introduced in 1938 to disadvantaged mothers after childbirth. This was extended to all pregnant women in 1949 – but they were expected to see a doctor, midwife or the municipal maternity welfare clinic by the fifth month of pregnancy.

At the time, Hakulinene and Gissler stress, the poorest families could not always provide a newborn with a clean place to sleep and textiles were in short supply during the war. The box formed a hygienic and safe bed for infants and meant the baby would not sleep in the same bed as the parents, but in the same room.

The box was a tangible way of helping and of encouraging women to use maternity welfare services.

‘I can see it working for these mothers’

In Kenya, where Maigutha has handed 30 boxes a month to pregnant women who attend at least four antenatal visits, she explains that the success of the project lies in the incentive of the box.

“When they attend the clinic, we can educate expectant mothers to care for themselves and their babies. We can also spot health problems early on,” she says. “In the shacks, there is no place for a cot or a crib. With the box, the babies are kept dry and warm, which is important to protect them against pneumonia.”

In many cases, a family share just one bed and the box, which costs Maigutha about $30 or just over R400 to put together, is a cheap option to keep a newborn from suffocating.

The babies are put down to sleep on their backs and, with the infant fitting snugly in the box, Maigutha says they can’t roll over.

“I can see it working for these mothers,” she says. “I don’t have statistics yet, but I can see it.”

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