7th Anniversary of THE TIMES OF AFRICA

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Thursday, 5 October 2017

India acknowledges Djibouti’s support; H.E. Kovind becomes first Indian President to visit Ethiopia in 45 years

The President of India, H.E. Ram Nath Kovind, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in Djibouti on the second day (October 4, 2017) of his visit to the African country. He inspected a Guard of Honour along with the President of the Republic of Djibouti, Mr Ismail Omar Guelleh.
The President also led delegation level talks with his counterpart. An agreement to establish regular political consultations between India and Djibouti, at the level of the Foreign Office, was signed in the presence of the two Presidents.
During wide-ranging talks with his Djiboutian counterpart, President Kovind – the first Indian President to visit Djibouti – made specific reference to areas of common concern and interest such as terrorism; renewable energy and particularly Djibouti’s support for membership of the International Solar Alliance; maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region; and technical and capacity building assistance by India to enhance employment opportunities for Djibouti’s young people.
President Kovind specifically thanked President Guelleh for Djibouti’s support during Operation Rahat, undertaken by India in 2015 to evacuate its citizens from conflict-hit Yemen.
Later in the day, the President attended a State Banquet Luncheon hosted by the President of the Republic of Djibouti. Thereafter, President Kovind left for Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on the second leg of his two-country visit to Africa.
In Addis Ababa, Dr Mulatu Teshome, the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, made a special gesture in being present at the Bole International Airport to receive President Kovind. Subsequently, the President was accorded a Guard of Honour and witnessed an Ethiopian cultural music performance.
President Kovind is the first Indian President to visit Ethiopia in 45 years and the third overall. President V.V. Giri (1972) and President S. Radhakrishnan (1965) had previously travelled to Ethiopia.
The President will conclude the day by addressing an Indian community reception in Addis Ababa. His visit to Ethiopia continues today.

UN agency alarmed by largest influx of Congolese refugees into Zambia in five years

Source UN NewS Centre
Growing violence in south-eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has driven at least 3,360 refugees into northern Zambia over the past month, the United Nations refugee agency said today, warning that the humanitarian needs of the displaced could intensify on both sides of the border as the rainy season approaches.
“This is the largest influx of Congolese refugees into Zambia in the past five years,” Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told reporters in Geneva.
The refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from the Congolese provinces of Haut-Katanga and Tanganyika, are escaping inter-ethnic clashes, as well as fighting between Congolese security forces and militia groups.
“Those arriving in Zambia report extreme brutality, with civilians being killed, women raped, property looted and houses set alight,” Mr. Mahecic said.
Some 60 per cent of those arriving in Zambia are children. Many show signs of malnutrition. Malaria, respiratory problems, dysentery and skin infections are common among the refugees.
The Zambian Government, UNHCR and the Zambian Red Cross are distributing hot and providing psycho-social support for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. The humanitarian response team is delivering basic items, including tents, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, blankets, buckets, hygiene kits and soap. Temporary shelters are being erected, boreholes are being drilled for drinking water and temporary latrines are being constructed.
Because of overcrowding, UNHCR has started work on a second transit facility to receive the growing number of new arrivals. A more permanent settlement will also be developed, with a social infrastructure where new arrivals will be able to stay for longer and develop some self-sufficiency.
Since the beginning of 2017, about 5,761 Congolese have crossed the border into Zambia. In total, there are 27,338 Congolese refugees and asylum seekers in that country.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is scaling up its displacement assessments and emergency activities in Tanganyika as well as the Kasai province.
Increased ethnic violence throughout these provinces has uprooted more than 1.4 million people over the past few months, bringing the total number of internally displaced nationwide to some 3.4 million.
In Tanganyika province, the UN migration agency has carried out a survey in six of the 12 displacement sites in and around the city of Kalemie to collect information on the profile, needs and intentions of the displaced, including on their return and reintegration requirements.
The survey will be conducted at the remaining sites in the following weeks. According to IOM’s database, as of September 2017, an estimated 90,000 individuals reside in these sites in precarious conditions.
“The data collected during this assessment will provide useful information to IOM and its partners on the needs and intentions of internally displaced persons,” said IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) expert, Stephanie Daviot. “It will also allow us to better target the assistance to those most vulnerable on the sites.”
In Central Kasai province, DTM has identified around 197,000 internally displaced persons and 490,000 returnees in 1,809 villages.
The DTM assessments in Central Kasai will continue over the upcoming weeks and provide an overview of the displacement situation in the entire province by the end of October.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Jumia introduces Jumia Bot, Nigeria’s first E-commerce Bot

True to its mission of expanding horizons, Jumia introduced on 2nd October Jumia Bot, Nigeria’s first e-commerce Bot. Using Jumia Bot, shoppers can order food, find fashion or electronic items and book hotels and flights by simply having an online conversation with the bot.
This innovation, powered and hosted by Facebook Messenger, was officially launched on 2nd October in Nigeria and will offer Nigeria’s 18 Million Facebook users the ability to get their own personal Jumia shopping assistant directly on Facebook Messenger. The Jumia Bot works by asking customers what they’re looking for, and then using their answers to uncover the best offers. For example, to get access to the best hotel and airfare deals on Facebook Messenger, a user can simply provide his or her preferred date and destination to the bot in order to see the top recommendations.
Once a user’s criteria is selected, Jumia Bot will remember and use the research for his or her next order. The bot, developed by Jumia with support from Facebook, uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural learning process to hone in and learn users’ preferences over time in order to make recommendations that are personalized, timeline and useful to the shopper. The shopper’s post-order experience is also integrated into Jumia Bot. As a result, shoppers can track their orders and contact the Customer Service team for follow-up questions.
“When we launched Bot for Businesses on Messenger, our goal was to help companies make meaningful connections with their customers in order to meet their business goals.” said Emeka Afigbo, Head, Platform Partnerships, Middle East and Africa at Facebook. “We are excited to be part of the story in providing technology solutions to one of Africa’s leading e-commerce websites.”
In a statement on the significance of this new service, Juliet Anammah, CEO Jumia Nigeria said, “Jumia Bot has a very simple yet important objective: to help our customers get to personalized deals on Jumia Nigeria (www.Jumia.com.ng). We are pleased to unveil this new dimension of e-shopping for the Nigerian customer, and excited about helping to pioneer the next wave of local content and tech tools within our ecosystem.”
Source APO

H.E. Ram Nath Kovind reaches Africa; becomes the first Indian President to visit Djibouti

The President of India, H.E. Ram Nath Kovind, reached Djibouti on Tuesday in the first leg of his four-day state visit to two African countries – Djibouti and Ethiopia. The Prime Minister of Republic of Djibouti, Mr. Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed received the President at Ambouli International Airport. The two leaders then engaged in a short round of talks on bilateral relations and themes of common interest to both countries.
The President said that it was a matter of great honour for him to be the first Indian president to visit Djibouti.
On choosing Africa for his maiden overseas visit after assuming office he said, “This is no coincidence but a conscious decision. Our relations with beautiful continent of Africa are special in our hearts.”
Later in the evening, the President addressed an Indian Community reception hosted by the Ambassador of India to Djibouti, Shri Anurag Srivastava. The reception was attended by about 200 people, roughly half the Indian/Indian origin population in Djibouti, some of them descendants of Indian traders who migrated from Jamnagar and Rajkot over 100 years ago. More recently, Indian blue-collar and white-collar workers, employed in the port in Djibouti or in IT companies, have added to the diaspora.
Addressing the Indian diaspora he said, “The Ocean that connects us may be Indian in name, but belongs to all of us. Let it bind us together, as it had centuries ago. Rise of India’s opening collaboration opportunities and the Indian diaspora have an important role in building bridges between India and the world. India is on a high growth trajectory. There is optimism and excitement in our country. We have undertaken to transform the lives of ordinary people by 2022 when we celebrate 75 years of our Independence. We want to embrace and connect with our diaspora abroad.”
The President said that Djibouti is a strategically located country, just off the Gulf of Aden. It is an important Indian Ocean partner country for India. During the Yemeni crisis of 2015, Djibouti was supportive of Indian efforts to evacuate Indian citizens, and those of other countries, as part of Operation ‘Rahat’, and offered use of an air strip.
The President also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi by garlanding the bust of the ‘Father of the Nation’ (as Mahatma Gandhi is known in India), in Djibouti’s Nelson Mandela Avenue.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Rx Healthcare Fund announces anchor investors

Rx Healthcare Fund (“Rx” or the “Fund”), an Africa-focused healthcare private equity fund currently under establishment, today announced that GE Healthcare, a leading global provider of transformational medical technologies and services, is set to become an anchor limited partner in Rx. Following an earlier commitment to Rx by the African Development Bank, the proposed minority investment by GE is subject to completion of fundraising.
Rx, which is led by former Egyptian Minister of Health Dr. Hatem El Gabaly, is a private equity fund managed by a newly setup fund manager in partnership with EFG Hermes, the leading financial services corporation in the Middle East and North Africa. The Fund aims to address growing demand for high-quality healthcare services across North African and Sub-Saharan jurisdictions, through investments in high growth potential entities in three key sectors: specialized hospitals, medical diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals.
“Access to long term development funding is the cornerstone of sustainable healthcare development in Africa”, said Farid Fezoua, President & CEO of GE Healthcare Africa. “As Africa’s banks and financial services industry sharpen their focus on the continent’s expanding health sector, nurturing homegrown strategic funding and financing solutions combined with operators’ and technology domain expertise has the potential to provide a significant boost for local private sector healthcare providers, SMEs and entrepreneurs as well as public-private partnerships.”
“We’re delighted to have completed our lineup of potential anchor limited partners with GE Healthcare, an unrivaled industry specialist with a footprint in more than 100 countries across the world, and African Development Bank, the continent’s leading development finance institution,” said Dr. El Gabaly. “Importantly, GE Healthcare’s added value to Rx goes far beyond its financial investment: We view GE Healthcare and AfDB as strategic partners who would bring deep industry and geography specific knowledge in many of our target markets. We believe our Fund will offer a unique value proposition to the potential investors, in which it will be supported by veteran healthcare professionals, seasoned private equity professionals, and experienced investors.”
“Africa’s healthcare sector is unique in that it offers both the potential for superior risk-adjusted returns as well as the opportunity to invest responsibly in a critical sector that will have measurable impact on the wider economy,” El Gabaly noted.
With the IMF projecting the continent’s GDP growing at 6% (2013-2017) and a population of over one billion that includes an emerging middle class that has grown 60%+ to reach c.313 million over the last 10 years, Africa has a strong macro-economic outlook that could create a significant role for private healthcare providers.
Within Africa, Rx will focus its strategy to invest in opportunities across Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa as well as in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco in North Africa.
Source APO