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African Union Secures Provisional 270 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

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The African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for Africa through its COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).

The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) (www.AMSP.africa), on behalf of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) (www.AfricaCDC.org), today commences the COVID-19 vaccines pre-order programme for all African Union Member States.

Afreximbank will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of the Member States.

While AVATT has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccines doses from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, AMSP – the single-source platform enabling faster, more transparent and cost-effective access to COVID-19 supplies – has opened today pre-orders, offering an equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines doses for 55 African Union member states.

“These are historical times. For the first time in history, Africa has secured access to millions of vaccine doses in the middle of a pandemic as most of Western countries,” said African Union Special Envoy Strive Masiyiwa.

“There is still a huge shortage of vaccine doses and that is why this continental collaboration has designed a fair allocation coupled with timely and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines across the continent.”

“Afreximbank is proud to expand its support to African economies in their bid to contain the pandemic. Our vaccine financing facility builds on the success of our Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) to open access to COVID 19 vaccines to African states based on a whole-of-Africa approach favoured by the African Union”, said Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

“By providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to candidate vaccine manufacturers, Afreximbank will ensure that African States are able to rapidly access COVID-19 vaccines, at competitive prices and in a timely manner thereby contributing to saving lives and livelihoods”, he added.

To support vaccination operations, the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) (www.AMSP.africa) has also launched a new category on vaccine accessories which will help Member States to procure products such as ultra-low temperature freezers, personal protection equipment, cotton wool rolls, syringes and needles.

The biggest challenges to COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa have been financing of the vaccines and the logistics of vaccinating at scale, but we are glad that this gap is being filled by the Afreximbank financing facility.

“The critical decision now is how to get started so that once we start there will be no disruptions and this is where AMSP will play a very big role,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“From today onwards African Union Member States will be able to start placing online pre orders for their vaccines allocation through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (www.AMSP.africa),” said Fatoumata Bâ, Founder & Executive Chair of Janngo (www.Janngo.africa) and Managing Partner of Janngo Capital.

“We are proud to participate in giving direct access to cutting edge COVID-19 vaccines through Africa; This is essential to protect our people and reopen our economies.”

Tech

Cost Of Living In Kenya Shoots Up

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The cost of living in Kenya has gone up for the seventh consecutive month as prices of essential commodities rose at a time when most consumers are struggling.

According to local media reports, Year-on-year inflation or the overall rise in the prices of goods and services reached 5.78% last month compared to 5.69% in January.

Non-food and non-fuel inflation, remained largely in check, an indication that the increase in the prices of products has not been informed by increased demand but low supply of food and fuel.

The acceleration in the overall prices of goods and services was driven largely by cooking oil, sukuma wiki, cabbages, and mangoes, whose unit prices increased by 17.8%, 13.3 %, 9.1%and 8.69%respectively.

As a result, said the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), which compiled the report said the month-to-month food and non-alcoholic drinks’ index increased by 1.01% between January 2021 and February 2021.

“The food inflation was mainly attributed to an increase in prices of some food items which outweighed the decrease in prices of other foodstuffs,” said KNBS in a statement on Saturday.

Cooking oil registered the highest jump with a kilo retailing at Sh236.45 last month, compared to Sh200.7 in February 2020.

Beginning early last year, bad weather, low use of fertiliser and shortage of manpower triggered by social distance measures imposed by countries during the pandemic, depressed the production of palm oil in Asia, leading to the surge in prices of cooking oil in Kenya.

Crude palm oil is the main ingredient used in the manufacture of cooking oil in Kenya.

The scarcity in some of the items was compounded by a decrease in disposable income for Kenyans following the adverse effects of Covid-19, which saw them lose jobs.

Moreover, the tax relief measures that the government had given to Kenyans to cushion them against the negative effects of the pandemic have since been rolled back, making some of the products expensive for Kenyans.

However, during this period, prices of tomatoes decreased by an average of 24.1% with a kilo retailing at Sh97.40, down from Sh128.40 in February last year.

“Prices of lemons, mangoes and maize grain decreased by 5.64, 0.33 and 0.18%, respectively,” said KNBS.

Retail prices of kerosene and diesel also declined by 9.9% and 2.4% respectively.

“The housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ index, increased by 0.43% between January and February 2021. This was mainly attributed to an increase in the price of kerosene by 6.02% between January 2021 and February 2021.”

The cost of electricity, on the other hand, went down by 2.8%.

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Vodacom, Mondia Launch Maternal Health Service In DRC

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Leading pan-African communications company Vodacom DRC (Vodacom.com), and Mondia (Mondia.com), a private mobile technology company driven by innovation, have rolled out the Mum & Baby maternal health service across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Mum & Baby is a free-of-charge mobile health intervention service that provides Vodacom DRC subscribers with maternal, neonatal, and child health information designed to encourage good health practices amongst pregnant women, mothers, partners, and caregivers. Mondia creates Mum & Baby’s tailored content in the local language and includes expert articles, videos, and information-sharing SMS messages. 

Mum & Baby’s future enhancements in the DRC will provide interactive tools including a due-date calculator, an immunisation calendar, medication reminder, medication safety information, and other health tools and services. The service is available in French.

The Mum & Baby service provides positive socio-economic benefits in the geographies in which it operates. In a recent KPMG survey conducted to understand the impact of the Mum & Baby service:

  • Over 95% of respondents reported that they found the SMS messages received useful or very useful for learning new information about their own and their child/children’s health and wellbeing;
  • 98% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had taken actions to improve their child’s health as a result of the information provided through the Mum & Baby service; and
  • 98% of pregnant women and mothers surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they had taken actions to improve their own health as a result of the information provided through the Mum & Baby service.

Dr. Amadeo Rahmann, Mondia’s Group CEO, said of the partnership, that  “accessing healthcare services in Africa can be challenging, and Mum & Baby provides a free and convenient way of accessing instant expert advice where it is most needed. The Mum & Baby service leverages Mondia’s extensive networks and expertise in content production and curation, and we expect it to continue to deliver positive social impact wherever it is rolled out.”

“Ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all ages is one of the United Nations (UN)17 Sustainable Development Goals, with the attainment of this goal, especially as it relates to infant health, having been threatened by the burden of COVID-19 on African healthcare systems. According to the World Health Organization, each year around 300 000 African babies die on the day of their birth, most often as a result of inadequate educational maternal and neonatal care.

Initiatives that put the power of good health directly in people’s hands are more important than ever”, Dr. Rahmann concluded.

“Mum & Baby has become our flagship health and wellness brand focusing on motherhood. We are proud of the way in which it contributes to our vision of building communities, bringing health solutions to more lives, and promoting good health outcomes” said Vodacom DRC’s spokesperson.           

Launched in South Africa in 2017, the Mum & Baby service had 1.2 million registered subscribers as of August 2018. The next rollout of the service will take place across Lesotho later this month.

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Business

Jeff Bezos’s Legacy, According To Experts

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In a few months, Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO of the sprawling empire that he founded nearly 27 years ago, taking on the role of executive chairman.

Amazon is the fourth most valuable US company, as of this writing, the second-largest US employer, and has had the second best performance of any stock since going public in 1997. More than any other company, it has taught the world to buy things online.

The Quartz is conducting an inquiry into how the world will remember the Bezos era. Tech analyst Ben Thompson has called him “arguably the greatest CEO in tech history,” and the financial data backs that up. Harvard Business Review’s CEO rankings put Bezos first in financial performance among S&P 1200 executives every year from 2014 to 2019. (The magazine did not publish a ranking in 2020.) But when it added social and environmental performance to its ranking in 2015, Bezos fell from first to 87th.

That drop points to the difficulty of assessing Bezos’s legacy, at least so far. Should we remember him as a customer-obsessed founder? A long-term thinker and an internet visionary? A 21st-century robber baron? A union buster? Is he an enabler of small businesses or their archenemy? What should we make of his role as the owner of The Washington Post or his commitment to furthering space travel?

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