Rwanda: President Kagame in France for Vivatech Conference
Arab Organization for Industrialization discusses cooperation with Spain’s COLWAY group to develop railways
Government and the European Investment Bank sign a 5 million euros Loan for water and sanitation
Algeria’s Interim President Hosts Moroccan Ambassador
Stop discrimination, seek treatment for HIV, Seychelles’ president says
Ethiopia Striving to Revitalize Tourism Sector
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Carl Manlan
Africa’s health sector represents a massive investment opportunity, estimated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to be worth $66 billion annually. Yet African leaders and donors continue to discuss Africa’s health-care systems in terms of funding gaps. In fact, those gaps will close only when Africa is viewed as an investment destination, not a foreign-aid recipient.
A strong health-care system is a prerequisite for economic development. But the development aid to Africa that is designated for health is not predictable enough to sustain the kinds of long-term investments that are needed.
Importing pharmaceuticals, for example, costs Africa an estimated $14 billion annually. Creating the conditions for local pharmaceutical manufacturing would not only slash that bill; it would also result in the creation of 16 million jobs. (This is yet another reason to support the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.) Yet aid is often promised according to three-year timelines, with no guarantee that it will actually be delivered when needed to fund planned programs.
Of course, domestic public resources could be used for this purpose. But low economic growth and high debt-servicing costs have left many African governments with limited fiscal space. Yet, with a greater focus on improving tax collection, Africans stand a better chance of increasing their domestic revenues. And budgets are often subject to shifting political leadership and priorities, which can preclude consistent, long-term investment.
The result is that health-care spending in Africa is woefully inadequate. In 2015, the continent accounted for just 2 per cent of the $9.7 trillion in global health-care spending, even though it represents 16 per cent of the global population and 26 per cent of the global disease burden.
Increasing health-care spending in Africa is not a matter of ramping up aid; the limits of external generosity are clearly already being reached. Rather, it is about getting private actors – especially Africans – to seize the relevant business opportunities.
The scale of those opportunities should not be underestimated. Rapid population growth, coupled with longer life expectancy, means that countries’ health-care needs will skyrocket in the coming years. By 2030, 14 per cent of business opportunities in global health are expected to be in Africa, and the continent’s health and wellbeing markets will be worth $259 billion.
Meeting the health-care needs of a growing African population – and thereby ensuring that the continent has a healthy workforce to drive economic transformation – will require funding that is more predictable and sustainable, guided by reliable long-term strategies. Here, the African diaspora should take the lead.
As it stands, health-care spending funded by money from the African diaspora is more likely to be used to pay the medical bills of a sick relative (or, more broadly, on consumption) than to be invested in strengthening the system. Such investment would require pooling and channeling resources (via trusted intermediaries) toward projects that can meet the needs of entire communities at any given moment. And this presupposes a shift in focus from top-down solutions to the development of resilient systems that start at the community level.
For example, two million community health workers will be needed by 2020 to ensure that every African has access to quality care. This is not a new solution; community health workers were key to the health care received by my own parents in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1950s. But predictable funding is needed to build a system that can meet today’s health-care needs, while creating two million jobs. Other targeted investments include disease management, a market estimated to be worth $14 billion, and remote patient monitoring, estimated to be worth $15 billion.
The more stable the investment environment is, the more willing private-sector actors will be to fund the kinds of large-scale interventions needed to unlock Africa’s productive potential. Establishing special economic zones, which have been successful in countries like Ethiopia, will further boost predictability and confidence, driving further progress.
As leaders gear up for the World Health Organisation’s 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva this month, it is worth highlighting the limits of donor-driven development in Africa. To lay the foundations for economic transformation – including by implementing AfCFTA – Africans at home and abroad must step up.
In the long term, the economist John Maynard Keynes reminded us, we are all dead. But long-term health investment is for the living. It means that those whose lives are just beginning will be able to build a more prosperous future and ensure that future generations, too, enjoy longer, healthier, more productive lives.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Dr Eugene Mutimura and Jaime Saavedra
The emergence of the Digital Economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are radically transforming the way the world works.
Governments and institutions are rapidly converting their public services to digital platforms and entrepreneurs can now access larger markets and capitalize on skills and services from larger networks.
This transformation is enabling many new jobs and generating a great demand for digital skills.
By 2050, 525 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa will be under the age of 24. With 11 million youth entering the labor force each year, Sub-Saharan Africa has an enormous opportunity to take advantage of the incredible potential of the digital economy.
And to do so, young people in the region must have digital skills, socioemotional skills, and soft skills—precisely those which cannot be automated.
The young people of Africa represent a wealth of talent that is just waiting to be harnessed. Examples can be found everywhere.
Venuste Kubwimana, from Gihinga village in Rwanda, created a “water kiosk at school project” which provides clean water for students through a tap water station, re-usable water bottles, and a hand-wash facility made up of an automated drip tap.
Henri Nyakarundi, a Rwandan entrepreneur, is now the CEO of a company which developed a business-in-a-box solar kiosk that offers customers phone charging and airtime top-up services, wifi, an intranet with free digital content, and a Bluetooth printer.
Or the remarkable William Kamkwamba from Malawi, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” who used his wits, some old scrap metal, and the power of books to provide electricity and running water for his village to help them grow crops and end a devastating famine.
To tap into this great potential, Africa needs to prioritize investments in connectivity, digital infrastructure, and more importantly, its young people. Currently, only a fourth of Africans have access to the internet, and the number of technology innovations, even if growing, is small compared to the size of the African population.
On May 20, the 5th PASET Forum will kick off in Kigali, Rwanda under the theme “Destination Digital Africa: Preparing our Youth for the Future.” Since its launch in 2013, PASET (Partnership for Skills in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology) has become a transformative human capital investment initiative that has attracted the attention of businesses, non-profits, and governments from around the world.
PASET focuses on increasing the capacity of universities, research centres, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centres to generate knowledge and create skilled workforces, researchers, and innovators most relevant to Africa’s development challenges.
PASET aims at developing skilled professionals in applied sciences, engineering, and technology fields to increase the numbers of qualified faculty in African universities and to train young innovators.
The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), a pan-African Science Fund and one of the initiatives incubated by PASET, is pooling funds from African governments, development partners, and the private sector. The fund provides scholarships for young Africans to study at competitively selected African universities and to study abroad at foreign universities.
At the same time the fund allows African institutions to host PhD students from top universities. The first cohort of PhD candidates is getting ready to study for one to two years in international partner universities as part of the high-quality PhD exchange.
Importantly, about 40 percent of the fund’s beneficiaries are expected to be women. Women like Sandra Musujusu from Sierra Leone who, in 2017, came up with a research idea on possible alternative breast cancer treatment while studying at the African University of Science and Technology, Abuja.
Her research was sponsored by the Pan African Materials Institute at the African University of Science and Technology, one of the PASET RSIF-partner universities. She is now continuing her research in hopes of developing that treatment.
The 5th PASET Forum provides a platform for policy makers, private sector and technical experts to share experiences, discuss opportunities and risks, and to identify actions necessary to prepare Africa’s youth for a digital future.
Necessarily, this includes the content and methods of instruction offered by the tertiary education system, examining how to rapidly extend broadband connectivity to Africa’s universities and technical institutions, and the use of technology to increase access for students.
The Forum will also help African governments identify necessary reforms in their higher education systems to create opportunities for innovative research like Musujusu’s, effectively bringing in development partners and the private sector.
We invite African governments, universities, vocational institutions, industry leaders, and development partners to join us as we discuss how to spur the advancement of applied science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education throughout the continent so Africa can seize this incredible opportunity.
Just as Venuste Kubwimana, Henri Nyakarundi and William Kamkwamba harnessed water, sun and wind to help their communities, the 5th PASET Forum will harness the energy and enthusiasm of the leading voices in education to help all Africans reap the benefits of the Digital Economy.