Friday, 29 August 2014

Sports Minister Habineza calls for team work

The National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) has been awarded the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Policy Award for 2014 in recognition of its “innovative and impactful financial inclusion policies”.

John Rwangombwa, the central bank governor tweeted after receiving the award that the accolade was in “recognition of Rwanda’s visionary leadership”, to which he attributed the success of the Umurenge Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) programme”.

The governor received the award on behalf of the central bank during the 2014 AFI Global Policy Forum in Port of Spain, in the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Umurenge Saccos have been a financial inclusion successstory, which have in just three years attracted over 1.6 million customers.

Saccos and other microfinance institutions in the country currently serve almost the same number of customers as those of commercial banks, according to AFI.

Today, more than 90 per cent of Rwandans live within a five kilometre radius of the nearest Umurenge Sacco.

Commenting on the award, Gilbert Habyarimana, head of Umurenge Saccos at the Rwanda Co-operative Agency, said microfinance institutions serve a segment of the population that had been ignored by commercial banks.

“Microfinance institutions and Saccos have enabled rural people have access to financial services, save and lend to each other. This has led to the creation of jobs in the country as more people venture into different businesses with financing from Saccos,” explained Habyarimana.

The AFI forum, which ended yesterday, was held under the theme, “Global partnerships, national goals, empowering people”.

AFI members had the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences, and work together to move the financial inclusion agenda forward, according to Rwangombwa.

The forum was a follow up to the one held in Kigali in July on “Financial inclusion for inclusive growth and sustainable Development international”, which was organised by the central bank in partnership with the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and AFI.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ubumwe coach Bahigye eyes more glory

After lifting their first league and playoffs trophies, Ubumwe women basketball club are now looking to dominating the local scene in the coming seasons. Only two years since making their league debut, Ubumwe have now dethroned APR, who had dominated the women’s league since 2007.

Ubumwe beat Rwandans Allied for Peace Progress (RAAP) in three games to win the playoffs title over the weekend. Speaking to Times Sports after being crowned the playoffs champions on Sunday, Ubumwe head coach Jacques Bahigye, said: “We are very happy to win this trophy after only two years since the team was formed.”

“I feel very grateful to my players and management for making sure we achieve our targets faster than we anticipated. Nonetheless, we need to focus on building a strong team, which is capable of winning more trophies at home and beyond,” he said.

Ubumwe ran away with the best of five playoffs series finals after winning 64-37 in Game 1, Game 2, 64-58 and 63-39 in Game 3 at Amahoro indoor stadium court. Ghana-born Priscilla Doudou, a US citizen, was Ubumwe’s key players scoring a combined 55 scores in three games, which also earned her call-up to Rwanda women’s national team.

Rayon VC close gap on leaders APR

Rayon Sports volleyball club have closed the gap on leaders APR to within three points after winning their two rescheduled league second round matches.

Rayon secured double 3-0 wins against University of Rwanda’s College of Education (UR-CoE) and Petit Séminaire Virgo Fidelis-Karubanda on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The six points took the Nyanzabased side into second place in the 15-team league table standing with 24 points, three behind APR from nine games.

Inatek are third with 21 points, followed by the Lycée de Nyanza on 20 points, while KVC are in fifth position with 15 points.

Defending champions University of Rwanda’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences are bottom without a single point along with Ngororero and UR-CoE.

Mugwaneza sends Rwanda U-20 girls’ handball team into semis

Aline Umugwaneza scored 10 goals as Rwanda beat South Sudan 39-12 at this year’s U-20 handball Zone V Challenge Trophy and secured a place in the semifinals where they will meet hosts Uganda.

The women team lost to Kenya 20-16 in the first game, a defeat coach Anaclate Bagirishya says was an eye opener to them and are now ready to win the rest of the matches.

Bagirishya is optimistic of breaking the jinx of failing to bring any trophy back home in the three years Rwanda has participated in the regional tournament.

“We are tired of being the 2nd every time we participate,” he said, adding: “We should win it this time round.” Elsewhere, the boys’ team suffered a setback against Uganda 29-22 in the opening game but recovered to win 29-19 against Burundi. They take on Kenya in today’s semi-finals.

Tom Close releases new single

The 2011 Primus Guma Guma Superstar winner Thomas Muyombo best known as Tom Close, has released a new single dubbed Ihogoza, which is already enjoying airplay on local radio stations.

Ihogoza comes out shortly after Tom Close revealed that he had plans of launching two albums in December this year. “Ihogoza is about people who society underestimates because of old age yet they are still strong and capable of working,” said Producer/Manager Clement at Kina Music Label.

The RnB singer had announced his plans of a double album launch later this year. Some of the songs on 5th album include; Ndakubona, Igitabo and Mbabarira Ugaruke among others, while Ibintu Byarahindutse, Byararangiye and Ihogoza will be among the songs on the 6th album.

Queen Cha releases new video

A few days after promising her fans a strong musical comeback, local artiste Yvonne Mugemana, aka Queen Cha, has released a new video, Kizimyamoto, featuring Urban Boys’ Safi Madiba.

The new video, released on Monday, comes after Queen Cha had been off the music scene for months as she embarked on completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology.

“The wait is over. I have been at school trying to complete my studies and I am now done. I will be graduating on Thursday,” she said.

Queen Cha added that she is currently working on several projects and her fans should expect more songs from her. The singer started her music career in 2010 with the support of her cousin Safi Madiba before rapper Riderman signed her to his record company, Ibisumizi studio.

Although she started singing in 2010, it was her hit single Umwe Rukumbi in 2012 that cemented her place in the local music industry.

She later released songs such as Icyaha Ndacyemera, Njye Ndagukunda, Windekura and Isiri.

Rwandan films to feature at Swiss festival

Five Rwandan films will be featured at the 9th annual edition of Festival cinemas d’Afrique Lausanne that kicks off August 21 to 24 in Switzerland. The five films include The Rwandan Night, Rwanda, l’autrerevanche, Imbabazi, Ma vie en Rue and Blandine et Les Siens. In 2013, Cinemas d’Afrique Lausanne featured Rwanda: Beyond The Deadly Pit and Scars of My Days, the first of independent films from Rwanda with a personal approach.

From fiction to documentaries, the filmmakers from Rwanda and Switzerland inspire a deeper reflection on humanity and help to commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi, an event orchestrated to take the lives of more than one million people within one hundred days.

“These filmmakers are doing what is deemed impossible to portray in words and images. We have invited Swiss and Rwandan filmmakers to join us at the festival and speak to our audience,” says the Founder and Festival Co-director Alain Bottarelli.

The first film ever made by a Swiss about the Genocide is Emmanuelle de Riedmatten’s Blandine et Les Siens which was shot in 2004. The film follows Blandine, a Tutsi girl who was 12-year old during the Genocide as she travels back to Rwanda from Switzerland to reward a Hutu lady who saved her. Joel Karekezi’s short fiction film Imbabazi will also be featured at the festival. It is a moderate film that contributes to the dialogue of justice and reconciliation after the Genocide. Joel’s films have been shown in Rwanda and around the world. The screening of Imbabazi will follow Ella Liliane Mutuyimana’s award winning short Ma vie en Rue meditating on life about traditional and urban life.

Rwanda, l’autre Revanche is yet to be shown in Rwanda but the Swiss filmmaker Pierre-Alain Frey followed Michel and Eline Kocher-Mukantare as they travelled with their children through Rwanda to capture the country’s story of hope. It tells how the Swiss couple viewed the desire of the people of Rwanda for education and the difficulties in living together five years after the genocide. The Rwandan Night is a thought-provoking ethnographic documentary edited with from footage of commemorators at Amahoro stadium in Kigali and interviews with Genocide scholars in an attempt to define the word genocide at a conference in California. The film is the first sequel of Rwanda: Beyond the Deadly Pit filmed over the course of three years in Rwanda, United States of America and Switzerland.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Knowless says Dream Boys favourites to win PGGSS 4

Music powerhouse Jeanne Ingabire Butera aka Knowless predicts Dream Boys as favourites to win PGGSS 4 competition when the grand finale takes place on August 30 at Amahoro stadium.

Her suggestion caused uproar among music fans who thought of it as a way of telling her fans to vote for Dream Boys considering that she has a huge fan base compared to most artistes in Rwanda.

Speaking to The New Times, Producer Clement, and Knowless’ manager, said: “there is no problem Knowless campaigning for Dream boys because they are all under the Kina Music Label and they always work together. So, I see no problem with that.”

Producer Clement, who produces and manages musicians Knowless, Christopher, Dream Boys and Tom Close at his label, Kina Music, added that Dream Boys have the potential and capacity to win this year’s edition since they are experienced, have great vocals and performances.

This year’s PGGSS 4 has three top finalists, Jay Polly, Bruce Melody and Dream Boys competing for the grand prize of Rwf 24 million although the seven remaining artistes in the competition will also compete for the remaining positions which also have cash rewards.


In the Himalayan wilderness Dharamsala is a lovely place. Spectacular views of the snow-laden mountains, striking culture, quaint old monasteries and packed with Buddhist nuns and monks together form the tourist attractions in Dharamshala.
Dharamshala is blessed with picturesque natural beauty covered with oak, deodar, pine and lush greenery, and has everything for a perfect holiday. It is full of life and yet peaceful. Dharamshala has a number of exciting places to visit varying from temples to churches, monasteries to museums and ancient towns to places of natural beauty.
Every season and every spot has its own special offering such as Kangra art museum, Kotwali bazaar, St. John’s Church are the various well known places. The colourful temples and Gompas add cherry to the cake by reflecting the preeminent culture of Tibet.
Handy Information
Languages Spoken:Hindi, Punjabi, English and Pahari are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade Shopping Centres: Kotwali Bazar, a general shopping area, and McLeod Ganj for Tibetan handicrafts
Area:5739 sq. km
Population: 13.39 lakh
Altitude: Between 1250 m to 1550 m (Dharmshala)
Temperature: Max. 38 C in June; Min. 0 C in Jan.
Annual rainfall:Varies between 290 cm to 380 cm second highest rainfall in the country.
Best season:January to June; September to December. July-August is rainy season.
Clothing:Winter: Heavy Woollens Summer: Light Woollens and tropical
Approach:Air: The nearest airport at Gaggal is 14 km away after which it is accessible by road.
Rail: Pathankot is the nearest broad gauge railway terminal to Dharamshala. From Pathankot there is a narrow gauge railway line up to Kangra (94 km) and from here Dharamshala is 17 km by road.
Road: Direct and regular bus service from Delhi (520 km), Chandigarh (250 km), Jammu (210 km), Shimla (238 km), Chamba (185 km) and Manali (240 km).
Places to See in Dharamshala
• Bhagsunag Falls: The mighty Bhagsunag waterfalls lies a little away from the town of Dharamsala. An old temple is also positioned is the surrounding.
• Dal Lake: Edged in Deodar and Fir trees, the Dal Lake is added chocolate-box spot just 10kms away from Dharamsala.
• McLeod Ganj: Lovingly raised as the little Lhasa, McLeod Ganj draws more fame from the residence of His Holiness Dalai Lama than anything else. The little township with clusters of maonasteries and Buddha Statues is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dharamsala.
• Jwalamukhi Temple: A nearly two-hour jaunt would take you to the renowned Jwalamukhi Temple, enthusiastic to the Goddess of Light. There is no idol to worship as such in the temple. Slightly a constantly burning blue flame, emanating from inside the rocks, is worshipped.
• St. John's Church: As you drive from McLeod Ganj to Forsythe Ganj, St. John's Church lies in between. It also houses the tomb of Lord Elgin one of the Viceroys of British India.

Samsung launches Solar-powered Internet School in Ghana

Samsung Electronics West Africa and the Korean Education and Research Information Service (KERIS), in collaboration with the government of Ghana, this week launched the first Solar Powered Internet School (SPIS) in the country.

In a move that aims to bridge the digital divide and enhance educational capability of teachers and students in rural areas that have little or no electricity, the SPIS was launched at the Dago LA Junior High School, to complement the efforts by the Ministry of Education in the implementation of ICT integration in primary schools.

Speaking at the event, Ghana Education Minister, Hon. Prof. Naana Jane Opoku- Agyeman, comments: “The SPIS ensures that modern day education reaches each and every corner of Africa and through its power generation, enables those without electricity to benefit from the use of technology.”

With a vision to reach over 2.5 million students in Africa by 2015, Samsung’s initiative focuses on the deployment of ICT infrastructure, professional development of educators, content development and management, school administration and management as well as sharing best practices in the integration of ICTs in enhancing learning and teaching in the classroom.

Mr. Harry Park, Samsung Electronics West Africa managing director, urged the community to look after the investment. “The endless supply of information on the internet contributes immensely to broadening the perspectives of children today, improving their lives and in so doing improving the communities in which they live. Sadly, most children in Ghana and some other African countries lack the necessary ICT education with which they can compete with the rest of the world.”

The SPIS is a 40-foot shipping container that Samsung equips with 24 Samsung Laptops plus one for the teacher, a multipurpose Samsung printer, a 50-inch electronic board, a server, internet access and the solar panels. All these devices are optimised for use in a solar-powered environment.

The e-board allows for cross-group collaboration between and among educators and learners across geographical boundaries. It can run video conferencing, access the internet, and connect to the computers in the container, all simultaneously, providing an interactive learning and teaching experience for both the educators and learners.

Samsung has partnered with the Korea Education and Research Information Service (KERIS), an organisation which promotes public education through the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in schools, to pre-install content on the computers. KERIS also provided the necessary training designed to equip the teachers with requisite skills in curriculum development and integrate technology with this curriculum.

Kea’betswe Modimoeng, Public Affairs and Corporate Citizenship Manager at Samsung Electronics Africa,
emphasised the importance of partnerships with NGOs and Government in ensuring sustainability. “The SPIS is a step towards the right direction in terms of ensuring that we address the United Nations’ call for Africa’s growth as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This initiative is also in line with Samsung’s global vision of strengthening the minds and fostering the creativity of young people as well as a holistic effort on education transformation in Africa.”

The progressive Solar Powered Internet Schools concept, places African countries like Ghana, Kenya Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Gabon and South Africa at the forefront of nations adopting and integrating ICT in their education models.

South Africa, MTN, LTE Prepaid SIMs

South Africa has launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) PayAsYouGo SIM cards for prepaid customers.

The company said the move was designed to give them access to high-speed internet access that is ideal for a range of applications including online gaming, high definition television, and video conferencing. Now customers can enjoy doing the things they love doing online faster.

“South Africans want world-class internet access that is capable of meeting all their unique connectivity requirements,"says Larry Annetts, Chief Marketing Officer: MTN South Africa.

MTN has already rolled out LTE networks to parts of Gauteng, the Free State, KwaZulu Natal, and the Western, Central, and Eastern Cape with more sites coming online throughout the year.

"This roll-out strategy meansthat MTN customers are always at the forefront of the latest technology that is competitive and relevant for their needs," adds Annetts.

More than 790 MTN LTE sites are already live nationally with a further 825 sites integrated with LTE technology.

The new MTN PayAsYouGo LTE SIM cards are available from any MTN branded stores including participating retail outlets.

Existing prepaid customers wanting to perform SIM swaps to the new LTE (128k) will also be able to do so.
The MTN LTE PayAsYouGo SIM pack will consist of the Standard SIM, Micro SIM and Nano SIM retailing for R1.50 and customers can select from any from a wide range of newly launched bundles from 3GB (R299), 5GB (R399), 10GB (R599), and 20GB (R1 199).

App Makes Ebooks Available in African Languages

To many, the fact that literacy in African countries often leaves a lot to be desired comes as no surprise. A lot of organisations, however, are looking for ways to turn this around. Take for example Worldreader, who is planning to distribute nearly 400 African ebooks for free!

In cooperation with the African division of the African Cambridge University Press, NGO digital book provider Worldreader will soon release more than 390 titles on the African ebook market.

Ventureburn stated that the company, that has 330,000 active monthly users and housed 650,000 books in their digital library last year, is able to do this due to the lowered price of technology has fallen and risen adoption rates.

People using the Worldreader app don’t need specialised hardware to enter its library, Ventureburn says. The app can be accessed via the BINU Cloud Platform and is even compatible to feature phones – the African, simplified version of smart phones. According to the article on Ventureburn, all the user need is the possibility to run Java apps, which the writer believes is one of the best parts of the app.

Even though Worldreader originated in San Francisco, the NGO is present in Africa, Asia and a number of other places. Its aim is to up literacy levels, which the organisation is trying to achieve
by using universal technologies.

Now that Worldreader is joining hands with the Cambridge African Language Library, Ventureburn say, content will be available in the mother tongue of several countries in Southern and West Africa and the Riff Valley, for example.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Vodafone Partners Samsung for Galaxy Tab S Experience

Samsung Electronics Ghana has partnered Vodafone Ghana to launch its new Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 in Accra.The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5 are Samsung's latest flagship devices, built to show off the very best of the company's hardware and software prowess.

The Galaxy Tab S devices have been built to go toe-to-toe with Apple's slates, a brave and perhaps foolhardy undertaking. Both models have a 2560 x 1600 pixel WQXGA Super AMOLED screen, which works out at 287 pixelsper- inch on the larger model and 360ppi on the smaller one.

The internals are identical, comprising 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, an 8MP rear camera and 2.1MP front-facing camera. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa CPU inside these tablets combines 1.9 and 1.3GHz quad-core processors with the faster taking over from the slower when required at the expense of some battery life.

With a reinforced fingerprint sensor embedded in the home key, one can unlock the screen or access account with a simple finger swipe.

There's a multi window feature for multi-tasking which works as advertised, letting you chat while browsing the web or control your music while poring over Google Maps and so on.

It's of more use on the larger tablet and at this stage multitasking on a tablet feels kind of superfluous — once you get a keyboard up on screen as well everything starts to get really cluttered.

There are 30 different gifts bundled with the Tab S, covering subscriptions to sites like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to an in-flight Wi-Fi deal with Gogo and a free game or two.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Tetteh Akornor, Product Manager, Samsung Ghana said the partnership with Vodafone is because Vodafone provides the best network quality for its customers in the country.

Mr. Yao Agbeko, Head of Terminals, Vodafone Ghana disclosed that from now up to December this year anybody that purchase the Tab from any Vodafone or Samsung outlets will be given 3GB data for six month.

He said the partnership with Samsung is to give their customers the best of customer satisfaction.

Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan Agree to Cut Roaming Charges

Northern Corridor countries have agreed on a regional telecommunications framework to establish a "One-Network-Area" by 31st December 2014. When fully operational, charges on phones calls within the region could drop by 60 percent.

The One-Network-Area is being implemented following a directive of the 5th Heads of State Summit held in Kenya back in May 2014. At another summit in Rwanda on July 03, the leaders expressed satisfaction with progress.

Regional line-ministries were directed to ensure the following: Exemption of regional calls from surcharges applied by member states on international incoming calls. No additional charges to subscribers on account of roaming within the region. And no charges for receiving calls while roaming within.

Rwanda Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana said regional telecoms and governments need to work together to achieve seamless roaming in the Northern Corridor which comprises Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.

Subscribers travelling within the corridor will be charged as local subscribers in the visited country network. The subscriber will only incur prevailing calling rates of the visited network similar to what local subscribers pay.

Nasasira, Uganda's Minister of ICT said: "It is important that our regional telecom operators work together to make this communication milestone a reality."

Operators within the region shall be required to re-negotiate their bilateral agreements to ensure the full implementation of the One-Network Area by 1st September 2014 for Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and 31st December 2014 for South Sudan.

Dr. Matiang'i, the Cabinet Secretary, Kenya's Ministry of ICT said the telecom industry has to come together to establish a permanent platform that allows the sector to grow to benefit consumers.

The launch of the One-Network- Area will abolish roaming charges among the four countries. There will also be a significant drop in cost of calls within Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya by an average of 60%.

Data also shows that border trade and exchanges will boom - with citizens able to use their regular SIM cards for calls while traveling in the corridor. Initially, customers were forced to buy several SIMs to use in different states.

Currently, the cost of regional roaming is higher than the cost of calling international destinations like Europe.

Facebook Takes a Stand with Free Access to Women’s Rights Info in Africa

No one should be denied understanding of their human rights just because they can’t afford a mobile data plan. Now women in Zambia won’t be, as Facebook and’s new app gives them free Internet connection for accessing women’s rights resources like MAMA (Mobile Alliance For Maternal Action), WRAPP (Women’s Rights App), and Facts For Life by UNICEF.

Facebook worked with Zambian carrier Airtel and local governments to identify the need for these resources and bake them into But as the app gets rolled out in more countries around the globe, Facebook could cause tension with governing regimes that have historically oppressed women. And that’s a fight worth fighting.

MAMA Internet Dot Org“’Women’s access to technology – and their ability to use it to shape and drive change in their communities – is critical to gender equality” says Global Fund for Women’s President
and CEO Musimbi Kanyoro. “This technology will give voice to millions of people, including women, in Zambia, Africa and the whole world, and empower them to share ideas, drive innovation, and build more inclusive and democratic societies.”

The app launched last week in Zambia, its first country, as a standalone Android app, a tab in the Facebook for Android app, and as a mobile website available on the feature phones most Zambians carry. It gives free access to a limited set of Internet services including Facebook, Wikipedia, and Google Search, as well as local info on weather, jobs, government, and human rights. Airtel subsidizes this free access because the app proves the value of the Internet to people, some of whom may buy data plans through it to reach the rest of the web. Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 3.00.56 PMThe Zambian government has been supportive of the project, but could face friction in other parts of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, or the Middle East where gender discrimination is more institutionalized. Facebook has endured censorship in the past by governments that oppose social media and some types of content due to “moral concerns”, including Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Saudi Arabia as well as China. Some have lifted their bans, but purposefully giving free access to information that could encourage women and other disadvantaged groups to call for more freedom could potentially invoke governmental ire.

These situations could draw a fine line for Facebook to walk, where it doesn’t want to get its social network banned, leaving users in the lurch, but wants to empower people through the Internet. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, says “This technology will empower countless women to make a positive impact on their societies and the world.”

Mark Zuckerberg pushed to start because he says “I believe connectivity is a human right.” Empowerment through information can cause temporary destabilization and hardship, as we saw with the Arab Spring. But while these may be the growing pains of humanitarian progress, access to knowledge should help us emerge as a more just species.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Tanzanian villages to benefit from $6m telecoms upgrade

Fixed network operator Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) has announced US$6 million worth of investment for telecom equipment in 202 villages targeted at improving telecommunication services.

The upgrade will benefit 300,000 people living in 16 regions including Arusha, Tabora, Iringa, Kagera, Manyara, Dodoma, Lindi, Mbeya, Morogoro and Mtwara. Other regions earmarked for future development include Mwanza, Pwani, Ruvuma, Shinyanga, Singida and Tanga.

The equipment upgrade follows an agreement signed between TTCL and Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF), an institution created in 2006 by the government to ensure the availability of communication services in rural and urban underserved areas.

TTCL chief executive officer (CEO) Kamugisha Kazaura confirmed the new development.

“Our aim is to make sure that every constituency and village that was lacking telecommunication for a long time, to have that access,” he said.

“Most of the areas where the project is expected to be carried out are underdeveloped.”

ADEA, AfDB and KOAFEC launch the 2014/2015 Education Research in Africa Award

The competition for the 3rd and 4th editions of the Education Research in Africa Award (ERAA) is now open.

The Award aims to promote high quality education research, produced by African universities, research centres and research networks. It is awarded to four categories of researchers or institutions: the best emerging researcher, the best accomplished researcher, the outstanding mentor of educational researchers, and the best enabling institutional environment for education research.

The Award is organized by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the African Development Institute (ADI) of the African Development Bank (AfDB), with financial support from the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC).

The inaugural edition of ERAA was launched in 2012.

For the 3rd and 4th editions of the Award (2014 and 2015), research in the following thematic fields will receive special attention: technical and vocational skills development (TVSD); early childhood development (ECD); information and communication technology (ICT); science, technology and innovation (STI);gender issues; special education needs; teacher training and the teaching profession.

The organizing committee encourages women to participate in the 2014 and 2015 editions. The terms and conditions of participation in the competition are available on line.

Research on education is crucial for African education systems to function well. It provides decision-makers with the information they need to orient policy, conduct reform and enhance the quality, equity, relevance and efficiency of their education and training systems.

In spite of this, education research in Africa remains insufficient and underused. Among the main factors explaining this are the inadequate institutional environment for education research, and the persisting weak involvement of higher education in the policy-making process.

policy-making process. The objectives of the Education Research in Africa Award are: To strengthen the link between education research and education policy-making and practice in Africa;

To encourage and support researchers based in Africa and their organizations to produce and disseminate rigorous and relevant research that stimulates innovative policymaking for Africa;

To facilitate the interaction between researchers and policy-makers in order to promote the systematic use of research findings in the design, formulation, implementation and evaluation of education policies;

ERAA ultimately seeks the institutionalization of a culture of quality research that contributes both to informed decision-making and to the effective implementation of promising reforms and practices. It is part of a wider framework seeking to strengthen education research capacities in Africa, which will be implemented in the next few years.

The juries for the Award are made up of African and Africanist researchers and education specialists working in universities, research centers and research organizations based in Africa and in other regions of the world.

Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa supports Mali in promoting renewable energy

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) approved on 11th of August in Tunis a US$530,000 grant to Mali as co-funding for a project to promote renewable energy in the country (PAPERM project). The overall objective of the grant is to strengthen the enabling environment for catalyzing renewable energy investments from the private sector. Specifically, SEFA will finance policy, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks, as well as capacity building for various audiences involved in developing, financing, and operating renewable energy power projects.

The SEFA funded component is part of a wider project (PAPERM) in the context of the country’s Scaling- Up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) with a total project cost of approximately US$ 2.6 million, also funded by the SREP (US$1.5 million) and the government of Mali (US$0.4 million).

The PAPERM project has three components: the first will aim at improving the policy, legal, regulatory and institutional environment to promote investment in renewable energy; the second is focused on capacity building, knowledge management, communications and advocacy for renewable energy; and the third will strengthen the monitoring and evaluation processes of the sub-sector, and the programmatic approach under SREP-Mali. Mali’s Ministry of Energy will be the executing agency with the projected expected to be completed in three years.

The need to promote the development of renewable energy in Mali could not be greater: the national electricity access rate is only around 30%, even as the potential in solar, hydro and wind power generation is tremendous. “To better its energy mix, Mali must improve its policy, legal and regulatory framework. Eventually, renewable energy will be seen as a viable option for reducing the country’s dependence on thermal generation and effectively lower the electricity retail tariff,” said Alex Rugamba, Director of the AfDB’s Energy, Environment and Climate Change Department.

During the course of the project, the AfDB will support Mali’s Ministry of Energy in preparing and implementing activities, channeling SREP funding, and raising more financing to scale up the renewable energy investment in Mali. As part of the SREP program, the Bank is also involved in the development of a mini hydroelectricity project and a solar Photovoltaic independent power producer project in Mali.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Aviation Day sets agenda for enhanced intra-African connectivity

Johannesburg – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) African Aviation Day emphasized the need for intra-African air connectivity to spread economic and social prosperity across the continent. In particular, IATA noted that the liberalization of air rights for intra- Africa flights could yield significant benefits in both jobs and GDP growth.

Africa is well-placed to enjoy sustained economic growth thanks to a young, expanding and urbanizing population, combined with abundant natural resources. But because intra-African aviation connectivity and the economic health of its airlines are weaker than they could be, opportunities for job creation, business growth and innovation are being lost. African airlines are expected to return a profit of just $100 million in 2014, on a net profit margin of 0.8%, the lowest of all aviation regions.

“Increased intra-African air connectivity is essential if Africa is to seize the opportunities for growth promised by its demographic and resources advantages. Aviation in Africa supports nearly 7 million jobs and $80 billion in GDP, but it faces challenges in terms of liberalization of markets, safety, costs, infrastructure and regulation. Only through industry and governments working hand-in-hand can these challenges be overcome, to the benefit of everyone across Africa,” said Raphael Kuuchi, IATA’s Vice President for Africa.

Enhanced connectivity

To provide African governments with a clearer view of the benefits of intra-African connectivity, IATA formally launched a report showing that liberalization of air services across 12 African nations would create 155,000 jobs and boost GDP by $1.3 billion.

The report by InterVISTAS, an independent consultancy, calculated the positive economic impact of implementing the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, which pledged to open up air transport markets within Africa to transnational competition. The 12 nations in the report are: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.

Improved safety

The 2012 Abuja Declaration on African Safety by transport ministers of the African Union set out a goal for African aviation to match the average safety levels of the rest of the world by 2015.

IATA has identified 20 airlines for assistance in implementing IOSA. The Declaration also calls on states to create well-resourced and autonomous Civil Aviation Authorities and to implement safety management systems.

Tackling the challenge of Ebola

The spread of Ebola continues to be a significant medical challenge in the region. IATA is liaising closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), which is taking the lead in tackling the disease. The aviation industry is taking all necessary precautions, such as introducing exit screening at certain airports. Airlines also have well-tested procedures for handling suspected cases of infection, including guidelines for isolation and care for ill passengers, and measures for disinfecting aircraft.

“The WHO is best placed to give authoritative, independent advice on how best to deal with Ebola. They have been very clear that travel and trade bans are unnecessary. Unless this advice changes we hope that countries working hard to eradicate Ebola continue to benefit from air connectivity,” said Kuuchi.