AfricanBrains Africa Education Innovation Technology Investment Networking Events News Social Media Blogs Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:12:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Teachers the heartbeat of the nation Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:12:32 +0000 motshegkaBy – 

Pretoria – The Department of Basic Education hopes the first Annual Teachers Indaba, kicking off this morning, will help improve the morale of teachers.

The Indaba, hosted by Minister Angie Motshekga, will also see the launch of the Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme (TASP).

“From 2015 onward the recognition of teachers will be wider, holistic, and year-long and includes areas that affect teachers as people and professionals,” said the department.

It is also hoped that this programme will help attract qualified teachers and to positively affect productivity and efficiency amongst the other objectives.

In celebrating the teachers for their important role of shaping the minds and futures of South Africa’s past, present and future generations, TASP according to the department, will focus on celebrating teachers every day culminating in a seminar at the end of October, the month in which World Teachers Day will be celebrated.

World Teachers’ Day is an annual event, which is commemorated internationally on 5 October.

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SA’s top researchers honoured Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:39:26 +0000 .

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Pretoria – South Africa’s top researchers were celebrated for their continued pioneering work in advancing knowledge creation and innovation at the 2015 National Research Foundation (NRF) Awards.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor on Thursday acknowledged the recipients at a ceremony held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Awards recognised the significance and impact of their recent research outputs as judged by their peers through the NRF rating system.

Speaking at the function, Minister Pandor said South Africa’s progress towards a knowledge intensive economy rests on the country’s ability to develop a diverse – both in terms of race and gender – cohort of young researchers with high-end skills.

“We congratulate today’s awardees, especially Professor Michael Feast for receiving the lifetime achievement award. We are confident that today’s awards will motivate you to do even more to grow the outputs of our national system of innovation and to train more researchers.

“Your continued contribution to our National System of Innovation will play a significant role in ensuring that the vision of South Africa set out in the National Development Plan is indeed achieved,” said Minister Pandor.

Dr Beverley Damonse, Acting CEO of the NRF, said progress has been made by the organisation in building human and institutional capacity, particularly with regard to achieving equity and transformation, within South Africa’s research sector.

“Over the past five years we have seen an increase of 77% in the number of black rated researchers and 52% in the number of female rated researchers.”

One of the top three awards of the evening were awarded to Professor Michael Feast of the Department of Astronomy, at the University of Cape Town in the catergory Lifetime Achievement Award.

This was based on a lifetime of extraordinary contributions, of international standard and impact, to the development of science in and for South Africa over an extended period of time, and for the manner in which his work has touched and shaped the lives and views of many South Africans.

The Champion of Research Capacity Development and Transformation at SA Higher Education Institutions award was presented to Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

He is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation, Postgraduate studies and the library at the University of Johannesburg. Through his leadership he has been an important advocate for increased transformation of South Africa’s science community and landscape.

The Hamilton Naki Award went to University of the Western Cape’s Professor Alan Christoffels. He is the Director: South African National Bioinformatics Institute.

The award recognises an individual for outstanding efforts to advance his/her career in science against all odds, and for achieving world-class research performance, despite considerable equity challenges.

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WorldVentures Foundation Plants Seeds of Hope in Zimbabwe Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:35:48 +0000 wvAs the world mourned Cecil the Lion and debated the humanity of hunting big game in Zimbabwe, a baby found abandoned in a pit latrine was being loved back to life nearby. How she got there, no one knows, but her plight fuelled purpose for those who joined WorldVentures Foundation™ (WVF) ( in August for Volunteer Days at the Rose of Charity Orphanage and its Community Center in Victoria Falls.

“My heart breaks when I think of that sweet baby, left to drown in human waste,” said WVF Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd, as she fought back tears. “The inhumanity is unspeakable but, as horrible as it is, stories like hers are all-too common. It’s why we are called to serve.”

Lloyd and her team led two groups of WorldVentures Representatives and Members to Zimbabwe August 9-16 and August 13-16 to clean, paint, furnish and construct a sustainable food garden at the Victoria Falls orphanage. The beautiful humanitarian Simangele Moyo founded the home in 2007 as a haven for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Today, services have expanded to include personal empowerment workshops, education assistance, therapeutic counselling and more. WorldVentures Foundation raises funds and provides volunteer support for outreach organizations like Rose of Charity to fulfil its mission to positively impact children worldwide.

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Children from Rose of Charity Orphanage and the surrounding neighborhood together with WorldVentures Foundation Executive Director Gwyneth Lloyd on the right, and Jennifer Ho on the left

Lloyd said education and clear paths to self-sufficiency will help end the cycle of teen pregnancy and baby abandonment that leads to institutionalization in Zimbabwe. To that end, WVF volunteers are helping to collaborate on funding a school dropout prevention program at the orphanage that includes vocational training for careers in tourism and hospitality. Lloyd also invited the management at nearby Elephant Hills Hotel about partnering with the home on training and job placement.

“Without the selfless contributions of our volunteers, none of this would be possible,” Lloyd shared. “They’ve built more than a garden here; they’ve planted seeds of hope.”

WorldVentures Rep Misty Anderson of Chattanooga, Tenn., was among the volunteers who came to lend support. With a heart for giving that stems from her own disadvantaged youth, she expressed her passion for the Volunteer Days program.

“I’m passionate because I was kinda raised like this,” she said tearfully, while watching the orphans play. “I want to give because I didn’t really have anybody to give back for me. Being able to overcome some of the things I’ve come from, I want to help others overcome. I would advise anybody to do this because of what you get out of it.”

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IMF Staff Completes 2015 Article IV Mission to Angola Fri, 28 Aug 2015 11:35:33 +0000 imfAn International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ricardo Velloso, visited Luanda from August 12-25, 2015, to conduct discussions for the 2015 Article IV consultation.

The mission met with Vice-President Manuel Vicente, Finance Minister Armando Manuel, Planning and Territorial Development Minister Job Graça, Economy Minister Abrahão Gourgel, Construction Minister Waldemar Pires Alexandre, Petroleum Minister Botelho Vasconcelos, Public Administration, Labor, and Social Security Minister Pitra Neto, Commerce Minister Rosa Pacavira, Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA) Governor José Pedro de Morais Júnior, as well as other senior officials of the executive branch. The mission also met with members of the Economic and Finance Commission of the National Assembly, and representatives from the financial sector, the non-financial private sector, and the state-owned oil company Sonangol, religious and non-governmental organizations, and the diplomatic community. At the conclusion of the mission, Mr. Velloso issued the following statement:

“The Angolan economy has been severely affected by the sharp decline in oil prices in the last year. A comfortable level of international reserves has allowed the economy to weather better the consequences of the fall in oil prices than in 2008-09. However, with oil accounting for over 95 percent of exports and about 75 percent of fiscal revenue, recent developments underscore the importance of promoting the diversification of the economy by preserving macroeconomic stability and moving forward an ambitious structural reform agenda.

“Economic activity is projected to slowdown as the industrial, construction and services sectors adjust to cuts in private consumption and public investment amid a reduced availability of foreign exchange. In 2015-16, output growth is projected to average 3½ percent a year. Inflation is accelerating, reflecting the depreciation of the kwanza and, in the first half of the year, loose monetary conditions, and is expected to peak by end-2015, before declining gradually over time. The external accounts are weakening as a result of the sharp decline in oil exports and the limited room for import substitution in the near term. The outlook is for a recovery starting in 2017 but there are downside risks, including a further decline in oil prices.

“The government’s timely reaction to the decline in oil prices by revising the 2015 budget will allow the central government deficit to fall to 3½ percent of GDP, compared to 6½ percent last year. Public debt, however, is projected to increase significantly to around 57 percent of GDP, of which 14 percent of GDP corresponds to Sonangol, by end-2015. The 2016 budget should be predicated on a conservative oil price assumption and be aimed at protecting expenditures on social assistance and critical infrastructure while preserving fiscal discipline given that a recovery in oil prices in the near term is unlikely. It will be critical to bring the public sector wage bill, as a share of GDP, more in line with the new revenue reality of the budget.

“Over the medium term, fiscal policy should aim at restoring fiscal buffers by setting public debt on a declining path and achieving fiscal consolidation through structural fiscal reforms. Increasing the non-oil revenue base by rationalizing tax incentives and strengthening the newly created tax administration agency (AGT) is a priority. With a view to do more and better in the context of lower revenues, the quality of capital spending can be improved by strengthening the processes to evaluate, select, and monitor projects in the public investment program.

“Monetary and exchange rate policies need to be focused on containing inflation while preserving an adequate level of international reserves. The BNA has adequately tightened liquidity conditions by increasing its policy rate and banks’ mandatory reserve requirements. Interventions in the foreign exchange market have allowed for an orderly depreciation of the kwanza. However, the wide and volatile spread between the parallel and primary market exchange rates as well as the backlog of foreign exchange buying orders in commercial banks are indications that an imbalance still exists in the market. Addressing it is essential to maintain the official exchange rate as the basis for price formation and inflation expectations, and to prevent a misallocation of resources in the economy.

“Preserving the health of the banking sector is essential to allow the economy to recover from the current slowdown. The BNA’s rightly focused efforts to strengthen bank supervision are welcome. Efforts should not be spared in ensuring that all banks meet regulatory requirements, especially regarding capitalization and liquidity.

“Accelerating the structural reform agenda is more important than ever to boost potential growth and reduce poverty. The National Development Plan aims appropriately at creating the conditions for the diversification of the economy by increasing investment, productivity, and competitiveness. In order to achieve these goals, special attention needs to be paid to improving the business environment, physical infrastructure, and human capital development. The recent approval of new labor and private investment laws are important steps in the right direction.

“We thank the authorities for the candid and constructive dialogue.”

The IMF Executive Board is expected to discuss the 2015 Article IV consultation in October, 2015.

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ECAir, the national airline of the Republic of Congo, signs a partnership agreement with the WHO Fri, 28 Aug 2015 09:33:26 +0000 ec airFatima Beyina-Moussa, Director General of ECAir, Equatorial Congo Airlines (, the national airline of the Republic of Congo, and also President of the Association of African Airlines (AFRAA), hosted a press conference this Wednesday, 26 August 2015 at ECAir House, the headquarters of ECAir, with Dr Fatoumata Binta Diallo, representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Congo.

ECAir and the WHO have signed a partnership agreement within the framework of strengthening a public-private partnership. The signing of this agreement reflects the efforts that ECAir continues to deploy in order to defend and enhance the image of the Republic of Congo, and the African continent in general around the world, by supporting businesses as well as national and international organisations.

“At ECAir we are very sensitive to issues related to health and well-being. The ECAir Foundation has launched a campaign to fight against malaria. This is a project close to our heart,” noted Fatima Beyina-Moussa. “You know, our company is the official carrier for the fiftieth anniversary of the African Games, which are to be held in Brazzaville from 4 to 19 September. Within this context, we’ll be transporting thousands of athletes and officials. Additionally, our teams will be available to support WHO activities and to assist with conveying the message on the prevention of cancer, alcohol abuse and HIV/AIDS, and raising awareness of the Ebola virus.”

For Dr Fatoumata Binta Tidiane Diallo, the WHO representative in Congo, “collaborating with ECAir is an honour for the WHO, because the Congolese national airline is also involved in social issues and regularly demonstrates an ongoing awareness of health-related challenges. For us, ECAir is a key partner.”

ECAir connects Brazzaville to 12 destinations (Pointe-Noire, Ollombo, Libreville, Douala, Cotonou, Bamako, Dakar, Paris, Dubai and Beirut as well as Kinshasa and Brussels via multi-modal transport). The company will expand its regional network in the last quarter of 2015 with the opening of the following destinations: Ouesso (Republic of Congo), Bangui (Central African Republic), N’Djamena (Chad), Yaoundé (Cameroun) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast).

With a fleet of seven aircraft (one Boeing 767, two Boeing 757s and four Boeing 737), ECAir has already carried nearly one million passengers. The company will host the 47th General Assembly of the AFRAA from 8 to 10 November 2015 in Brazzaville. This event will be under the patronage of His Excellency, Mr Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo.

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IMF Mission Concludes the 2015 Article IV Discussions and Announces Staff-Level Agreement with Tunisia on the Sixth Review under the Stand-By Arrangement Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:34:46 +0000 imfMr. Amine Mati, IMF Mission Chief for Tunisia, issued the following statement today in Washington:

“IMF staff reached staff-level understandings with the Tunisian authorities on the sixth review under the SBA. These understandings are subject to approval by IMF management and the Executive Board, which is tentatively scheduled to consider the review in late September. Upon completion of this review, SDR 214.87 (about $303.08 million) will be made available to Tunisia. The mission welcomes the authorities’ continued commitment to implementing their national economic program following the successful conclusion of their political transition, and looks forward to continuing the close cooperation to achieve the program objectives of macroeconomic stability and stronger and more inclusive growth.

“In recent years, Tunisia’s economy has been resilient in a period marked by a difficult international economic environment, spillovers from regional conflicts, increased security risks, and high social tensions.

“However, after reaching 2.4 percent in 2014, growth momentum has waned. Growth is projected to slow to 1 percent for 2015 as the repercussions of the tragic Bardo and Sousse attacks and persistent social tensions— as shown by work stoppages and strikes— dampened the benefits from the post-transition confidence boost, lower global oil prices and the eurozone recovery. External imbalances are expected to remain high, with the current account deficit improving marginally to 8.5 percent of GDP in 2015 while foreign exchange reserves remained at an appropriate level of 4-months import coverage, which is necessary to strengthen external buffers and reduce vulnerabilities. Inflationary pressures are expected to remain contained, helped by lower energy and food prices, and a prudent monetary policy.

“In response to the changes in the domestic and international environment, the authorities’ program has been adjusted to respond to the current challenges, and overall performance under the Fund-supported program has been satisfactory in view of those challenges. All end-March 2015 quantitative performance criteria have been met except for the indicative floor on social spending. Progress on structural reforms has been slow, but picked up recently on the banking sector front.

“The mission welcomed the modest loosening of the fiscal stance in 2015 to accommodate the short-term economic fallout of the recent economic slowdown, including through increased security expenditures and transfers to SMEs. The mission noted the growing public sector wage bill and called for the need to contain it to make room for priority and productive capital spending, which had reached record lows.

“The recent reduction in energy subsidies, resulting from the decline in global oil prices, is a welcome development. An automatic fuel price formula should be designed urgently to allow for a much needed decline in domestic retail fuel prices, which are currently above international levels for some products. It will also be important for the government to move quickly in adopting the tax reform, whose design followed a long process of consensus building during the national tax consultations, and aims at promoting greater transparency, efficiency and equity.

“A prudent monetary stance would continue containing inflationary pressures while greater exchange rate flexibility—including through continuing to limit foreign exchange interventions to smooth large fluctuations—will contribute to reducing external imbalances and strengthening reserve buffers.

“The implementation of the authorities’ broad reform agenda is progressing. However, at 15.2 percent unemployment, there is an urgent need to push ahead with structural reforms to boost job creation and help meet the aspirations of the Tunisian population for a more inclusive society.

“The reform of the banking sector is of particular significance. Steps taken to strengthen public banks, such as the initiation of the recapitalization of public banks and changes in their governance framework, are important. The adoption of a new banking law and further strengthening of the supervisory and regulatory framework will be needed to construct a modern banking sector and facilitate financial sector intermediation.

“Creating a level playing field for investors will require adopting and implementing key legislation, such as bankruptcy and competition laws. Advances in strengthening the social safety net by better identifying and targeting the vulnerable population is also welcome.”

The two-year SBA in the amount of SDR 1.146 billion (about US$1.68 billion, 400 percent of Tunisia’s quota) was approved by the Executive Board on June 7, 2013 (See Press Release No. 13/202). The fifth review under the SBA was approved by the Board on December 12, 2014, bringing total disbursements to date to SDR 787.87 million or about $1.15 billion. A 7 month extension of Tunisia’s SBA to December 31, 2015 was approved in May 2015 (See Press release 15/229).

The mission visited Tunis in June and July 2015 to carry out discussions with the Tunisian authorities on the Article IV consultation and the sixth review of their economic and financial program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). Discussions continued in Washington. The mission thanks the authorities and all those with whom they met for their warm welcome, and frank and fruitful discussions.

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DHL invests about 47 Million Euro in Sub-Saharan Africa Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:26:23 +0000 dhlFrank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group visited Africa and emphasized overall importance of emerging markets for the Group.

Frank Appel, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Post DHL Group (, visited South Africa and Nigeria this week. The visit demonstrated the overall importance of emerging markets in the Group’s Strategy 2020: Focus.Connect.Grow., and in specific the encouraging development of Sub-Saharan Africa.

During his stay in South Africa and Nigeria, Frank Appel met with employees and customers, and visited several logistics facilities. Affirming the Group’s focus on emerging markets, Frank Appel said, “Today, emerging market revenues contribute over 20 percent to Deutsche Post DHL Group’s revenues, but by 2020 the Group expects this figure to climb to 30 percent. Therefore, we will continue to concentrate on organic growth by investing into promising present and future markets. DHL already has a strong footprint in Africa, but we see some excellent opportunities to further increase our presence in the Sub-Saharan region. South Africa’s exceptional geographic location as the gateway to Africa, and Nigeria’s growing gross domestic product (GDP) and diversifying markets are only two of the many important indicators for this.”

DHL continues to significantly invest in Sub-Saharan Africa. DHL Express, which operates across 51 countries and territories in the region, has a planned investment in excess of EUR 17 million in 2015. Major projects underway include upgrades to facilities and shipment handling systems throughout the region.

In October 2014, DHL already announced investments totaling EUR 30.5 million in South Africa, by both its Supply Chain (EUR 14.5 million investment) and Global Forwarding divisions (EUR 16 million investment). These commitments signal the Group’s long-term growth plans for the region as they bring state-of-the-art infrastructure, IT systems and world-class services to support businesses operating in Africa.

For DHL Global Forwarding, the leading provider of air, ocean and road freight services, the EUR 16 million facility, located at the Plumbago Business Park boasts 12,000 square meters of warehouse space and 5,500 square meters of office space. A TAPA ‘A’ certified warehouse, the new premises are a world-class facility in South Africa, strengthening the country’s growth capabilities as the hub for distribution into the region.

With a EUR 14.5 million investment, DHL Supply Chain’s 25,000m² multi-user warehouse facility caters to its technology client portfolio, as well as some key fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) clients.

Frank Appel noted, “Staying close to the market and being responsive to customer needs are DHL’s fundamental principles. We have established world-class facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa to support our global network, and I am delighted to witness first-hand the sustained efforts of our employees to deliver best-in-class services. We are committed to Sub-Saharan Africa and will continue to build on our successful four-decade legacy in the region.”

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WATG Helps Fund Innovative Program Aimed at Assisting Ethiopian Agriculture Thu, 27 Aug 2015 11:30:19 +0000 ethiopian flagDonation to SDSU’s Zahn Innovation Center supports development for unique teff thresher equipment.

As an award-winning, visionary design firm, WATG has enjoyed great success over the years in creating internationally acclaimed destinations. With a track record of “designing experiences that lift the spirit” now spanning 70 years and 160 countries, WATG strives to design destinations that reflect both the environmental beauty and culture within each locale. Part of the firm’s commitment to both the environment and local cultures includes contributing to selective socially responsible programs.

A recent example of this can be seen in the firm’s donation of $2,500 to San Diego State University’s Zahn Innovation Center, which is spearheading funding to assist 6.5 million impoverished farmers in Ethiopia. WATG’s donation alone represented 50% of the total fund raising goal. Along with additional contributions from both individuals and other business organizations, the Zahn Innovation Center, and its affiliated crowd-funding website, Strive, are championing an effort to help Ethiopian farmers in their struggle to grow a nutrition-rich grain known as teff.

The constant struggle and challenges these farmers have endured is primarily due to the fact there has been no access to modern, inventive technology that enables efficient harvesting of this grain- until now. Thanks to the innovative and tireless efforts of several SDSU engineering and business students, a low-cost, human-powered teff thresher has been developed, providing a much-needed dose of modern technology to what historically has been a very arduous and time-consuming process. What’s more, the teff thresher presents a highly desired sustainable, scalable, for-profit business model that can dramatically improve farming practices, and help spur economic growth for many agriculture-based communities.

According to WATG President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Seyle, who earned his MBA from SDSU, supporting the Zahn Innovation Center offered a unique and timely opportunity for the firm to “give back” to those less fortunate and deserving. “As in many developing countries, there is a large segment of the farming community in Ethiopia that continues to struggle. As a company that has been privileged to design so many inspiring destinations, including several in Africa and the Middle East, we felt both compelled and proud to contribute to this worthwhile program. The innovative spirit exhibited by the SDSU engineering and business students echoes, to a large degree, what WATG strives for in our design work for our clients.”

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Japan to train SA youth Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:30:40 +0000 ramphosaBy –

Pretoria – Japan’s commitment to support South Africa’s developmental trajectory has been welcomed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking in Tokyo at the conclusion of his official visit to Japan, on Tuesday, the Deputy President said South Africa sees Japan as a friend, as a country that does not only invest, but a country that also supports development.

“They are making great strides in supporting the continent when it comes to skills development. They have invited or called for a number of young people around the continent to come and be trained here in Japan. We will be sending 49,” he said.

The Deputy President this week led a high-level government and business delegation to the country to promote strategic political and economic relations between the two nations.

During his visit he met with young people who are being trained in master’s degrees in engineering, logistics, marine technology and a number of other technologies.

“When we met these young people we saw the future of our country, we saw young people who are acquiring great skills who are ready to come back to make a contribution to our country,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

He said South Africa has asked Japan to extend this to the training of artisans.

“They are going to look at our proposal where we can send high level artisans who are willing to be trained to come and be trained in Japanese companies and go back home,” he said, adding that he believed through the visit opportunities have been opened for South African youth.

During his visit, he had found the Japanese people very receptive.

“We had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan; we spent an extensive amount of time with him and he demonstrated that he is very supportive of our developmental trajectory. We spent time with the Deputy Prime Minister, he articulated the same” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

The delegation also spent time with the Japanese business community.

“We also used this opportunity to promote trade. There are many other areas that we want to start trading with the Japanese on. More agricultural products, they are also going to give us skills with agro processing so it’s been hugely successful and we are all very happy with the way that the visit went,” said the Deputy President.

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Hope 4 Kids Announces Plan for Foster Care System in South Africa Thu, 27 Aug 2015 06:31:42 +0000 hope4kidsHelp the many South Africans in need. These children need food, medicine, and blankets.

Hope 4 Kids, a successful licensed foster care and adoption agency in Southern California for over twenty years, hopes to take their experience and expertise to South Africa. They would like to help set up a foster care and adoption system so that the children that can will remain in their own culture with their families they know. Those that are not able to stay will find homes that can provide a safe and loving environment.

Hope 4 Kids is going to be sending a small group to a village in South Africa at the end of September 2015. Huntington needs help; they have 168 children in dire need. However, before Hope 4 Kids can go to South Africa, they need help. That’s why they launched this campaign. The goal of this project is to raise $15,000 by September 11, 2015.

Donations will provide these children with their new foster homes with food, shelter and clothing. It will also provide the 168 children with medicine, mosquito nets and blankets that are currently a primary need in the village.

To help make this great cause happen, please visit the IndieGoGo campaign or click here. Backers can choose from many attractive rewards as a “thank you” for their donations.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to help the many South African in need!

Know others that would love this? Spread the word about Hope 4 Kids by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

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