Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Tigray region concludes COVID-19, HPV vaccination campaign

Ethiopia launched an integrated vaccination campaign in the Tigray region, providing Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and COVID-19 vaccines along with other healthcare interventions. The campaign, initiated on August 15, 2023, aimed to reach communities that had previously been unable to participate due to competing priorities.

Supported by WHO Ethiopia, the Tigray Regional Health Bureau, UNICEF, CDC, USAID, and other partners, the campaign covered 76 woredas across six zones, excluding the Western zone and inaccessible areas.

The interventions included COVID-19 vaccination for individuals aged 12 and above, HPV vaccination for 14-year-old girls, catch-up immunization for missed doses, and identification of obstetric fistula, uterine prolapses, and clubfoot cases.

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A total of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses (Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer) and 75,037 HPV vaccine doses were allocated for the campaign. USAID covered operational costs for COVID-19 vaccination, while WHO provided technical support and deployed officers for training, risk communication, and data management.

The campaign’s integrated approach facilitated the identification and referral of health cases, including 923 obstetric fistula cases, 463 clubfoot cases, and 5,113 uterine prolapse cases. Additionally, 3,520 zero-dose children and 5,251 children received various vaccinations.

(APO Group)

Firebombs and flashbangs at Tel Aviv protest

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Violent protests erupted following the tragic death of 4-year-old Refael Adana in Israel’s Ethiopian community. The protests, which took place on Wednesday, saw the Ayalon Highway’s southbound and northbound lanes blocked as demonstrators expressed their grievances.

Firebombs, stones, and bonfires were employed by the protesters, resulting in injuries to six police officers, with one requiring surgery. Four protesters were subsequently arrested.

The father of the late Salomon Taka, who was shot by the police, spoke at the protest, expressing condolences to Adana’s parents while highlighting the ongoing struggle for justice. Tsega Melaku (Likud) also addressed the crowd, emphasizing the systemic nature of racism faced by the Ethiopian community.

Earlier in the week, Adana’s family met with the prosecution to discuss the investigation. They sought to determine whether additional camera footage from the accident scene had been examined, as evidence suggested the driver lost control. Following the family’s claim, the Prosecutor’s Office ordered a further inspection of the accident site by the police.

The protests underscore ongoing concerns about institutionalized racism and the quest for justice within Israel’s Ethiopian community.

(Israel National News)

Ethiopian national arrested in sting operation bribing immigration officer

A 41-year-old Ethiopian national has been apprehended by Limpopo police for allegedly attempting to bribe an immigration officer. The arrest was made by the Provincial Anti-Corruption Unit during an undercover operation.

According to Malesela Ledwaba (Col.), the provincial police spokesperson, the accused offered the officer a bribe of R30,000 at the Mankweng Magistrate’s Complex on Wednesday. The immigration officer was expected to testify during the bail application of the suspect’s relative, who had been arrested earlier in the week on charges of illegal immigration.

Instead of accepting the bribe, the immigration officer promptly reported the incident to the Anti-Corruption Unit. Subsequently, an undercover operation was conducted, resulting in the suspect’s arrest while handing over an amount of R8,000.

The suspect is scheduled to appear in the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, facing charges of corruption. Thembi Hadebe (Lt. Gen.), the provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, commended the immigration officer for refusing the bribe. Ongoing investigations are being carried out by the police.

(IOL News)

Ethiopian Airlines gets overwhelming response for Expo 2023 Doha

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Africa is eagerly preparing for Expo 2023 Doha, where it aims to showcase itself as a global leader in horticulture.

The event, the first of its kind in the region and the second-largest in Qatar’s history, is expected to draw over three million visitors. Many African countries and companies are actively participating in the expo, which will span from October 2023 to March 2024.

Ethiopian Airlines, renowned for its high-quality services during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, has once again been chosen as the preferred airline for transportation and cargo services by numerous African participants.

Surafel Saketa, Ethiopian Airlines’ Country Manager to Qatar, expressed delight at the overwhelming response from African nations, citing the trust placed in the airline as a reliable partner.

The expo holds significant importance for Africa’s agriculture sector, particularly horticulture, and participating in the event presents an excellent opportunity to further enhance the industry. Expo 2023 Doha is anticipated to witness the most remarkable African participation in any similar event in history, demonstrating the continent’s agricultural prowess to the world.

(The Peninsula)

Weak Shilling, debt sink KQ into Sh21bn half-year loss

Kenya Airways (KQ) has reported its largest half-year loss yet, citing heavy forex losses and mounting debt as obstacles to its turnaround plan.

Despite a 56 percent revenue growth to Ksh 75 billion and a 43 percent increase in passenger numbers to 2.3 million, the airline’s losses more than doubled to Ksh 21.7 billion in the six months leading up to June 2023. This represents a 120 percent increase from the Ksh 9.9 billion loss reported in the first half of 2022 and exceeds the Ksh 15 billion full-year loss in 2021.

KQ attributes the poor performance to a surge in finance costs, which rose by 360 percent to Ksh 22.8 billion, primarily due to forex losses of Ksh 15.3 billion caused by the depreciation of the Kenyan shilling against the dollar. Despite achieving its first operating profit in six years, forex losses overshadowed the progress made.

With operating costs increasing by 39.5 percent to Ksh 74.1 billion, Kenya Airways faces significant challenges, including debts, fluctuating fuel prices, a weakening currency, and negative equity of Ksh 133.2 billion. The airline aims to recapitalize the business and seek government support to ensure long-term growth.

KQ has struggled with losses for the past 11 years, and the current results highlight the difficulties in achieving profitability in the near future, with legacy debts and currency devaluation identified as major concerns impacting the airline’s financial performance.

(Business Daily)

Africa CDC, APHF renew commitment to strengthen resource mobilization efforts

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Africa Public Health Foundation (APHF) have reaffirmed their commitment to advancing health and economic security in Africa through sustainable financing for public health initiatives.

In a recent meeting, the organizations discussed the implementation of their mandates, focusing on resource mobilization and grants management for Africa CDC’s strategic priorities.

The Director General of Africa CDC, highlighted the crucial role of sustainable financing in driving public health initiatives across the continent. The APHF will play a central role in mobilizing resources to support the Flagship Programmes, collaborating closely with Africa CDC to develop effective fundraising strategies.

The Founder and Chairman of the Governing Council of APHF, praised Africa CDC’s unwavering dedication to improving public health in Africa. He acknowledged the success of their collaborative efforts and emphasized the positive impact of their partnership.

The renewed commitment between Africa CDC and APHF aims to strengthen health financing and drive public health advancements across the continent.

(Africa CDC)

Solar irrigation for small-scale farms in sub-Saharan Africa

Standalone solar photovoltaic irrigation systems could address over a third of crop water requirements in small-scale farms across sub-Saharan Africa, according to a study published in Environmental Research Letters.

With 80 percent of agricultural production in the region coming from smallholder farmers, who struggle to increase productivity due to factors like rain-fed agriculture and unreliable rainfall, the study highlights the potential of solar pumps to boost food security.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis led the research as part of the Renewables for African Agriculture (RE4AFAGRI) project. Researchers employed an open-source modeling framework to assess the economic feasibility and sustainable development impacts of adopting solar pumps.

The study estimates an annual investment requirement of USD three billion, which could generate potential profits exceeding USD five billion by increasing yields for smallholder farmers.

However, the study emphasizes the need for strong land and water resource management infrastructure and governance to ensure the sustainability of widespread solar pump deployment. The findings can help stakeholders identify economically viable areas for solar irrigation and encourage investment in the sector.

(World Pumps)

MPs disclose plot to end Kenya Power monopoly

Kenyan consumers may soon have the option to purchase electricity tokens directly from independent power producers (IPPs) or Kenya Power, as proposed by the National Assembly’s Energy Committee.

The move aims to break the monopoly held by Kenya Power and reduce the high cost of electricity. Under the current system, IPPs sell power to Kenya Power, which then distributes it to consumers.

However, if approved, consumers will be able to choose the cheaper option between the two. Amendments to the law and power purchasing agreements would be necessary to implement this change.

The committee also plans to cancel contracts with five IPPs, currently receiving a combined annual payment of Ksh 23 billion. The contracts would be terminated after 36 months, once sufficient infrastructure is in place. The draft report also suggests renegotiating power purchase agreements, including changes to the capacity charge and currency of payment.

Further discussions with the Attorney General, the Treasury, and the Energy Ministry are scheduled. These proposals aim to provide consumers with choices and reduce electricity costs, but they are still subject to revisions and formal adoption by the committee.

(Business Daily)

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