Combatting Diphtheria in Nigeria: A Call for Vaccination and Vigilance

In December 2022, Nigeria found itself grappling with a harrowing diphtheria outbreak, a contagious disease primarily affecting the nose, throat, and skin, which had already claimed the lives of more than 600 individuals, primarily children. This grim statistic surpasses the 2011 outbreak, which saw a mere 98 reported cases, casting a shadow of concern across the nation.

Kano state, situated in the northern region, became the epicentre of this health crisis, bearing the brunt of the outbreak with over 500 recorded fatalities. However, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon, as the number of active cases has recently started to decline.

Diphtheria, a highly contagious and preventable disease, spreads through coughs, sneezes, and close contact with infected individuals, with severe cases often proving fatal. Regrettably, many of the affected children were unvaccinated, making the situation all the more heart-wrenching.

Dr. Faisal Shuaib, the head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, witnessed the dire consequences of this entirely preventable disease during a visit to a diphtheria isolation centre in Kano city. He emphasized the need for vaccinations, stating, “Witnessing the young children suffering from this entirely preventable disease at the centre today was profoundly heart-wrenching.”

As of 24 September, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) reported 453 fatalities and 11,587 suspected cases. Nevertheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns that the actual fatality and infection rates might be higher due to inadequate testing and some patients not reporting their symptoms. Despite this, measures such as contact tracing have contributed to a decline in case numbers.

This devastating outbreak has cast its dark shadow over 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states and the federal capital, Abuja. The hardest-hit states are all located in the north, including Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Jigawa, and Kaduna.

Health authorities are now urgently appealing to parents with unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children to ensure they receive immunization. They emphasize that vaccination remains the most effective means of controlling the ongoing crisis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) underscores that only 57% of Nigerians have received the pentavalent vaccine, which guards against five life-threatening diseases, including diphtheria. To avert future diphtheria outbreaks, Nigeria must increase vaccination coverage to reach at least 80% of the population, according to the WHO.

The last significant diphtheria outbreak in the country occurred in 2011 when 21 people lost their lives, and 98 were infected in Borno state, as reported by the WHO. In the wake of this latest outbreak, it is evident that vaccination is not just a crucial preventative measure but a lifeline to safeguard the health and future of Nigeria’s children.


Source: Africa News

Microsoft and Flutterwave Partner to Drive Payment Innovation and Empower African Businesses

Microsoft and Flutterwave, a leading payments technology company, have joined forces in a five-year strategic technology partnership aimed at revolutionizing payment innovation in Africa. The collaboration will see Flutterwave build its next-generation platform on Microsoft Azure, with the goal of accelerating the growth of small businesses across the continent and promoting financial inclusion. This partnership comes at a crucial time when small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are recognized as vital contributors to Africa’s progress and development.
SMEs play a pivotal role in Africa’s economy, providing employment opportunities for about 90 percent of the continent’s population. These businesses are also at the forefront of innovation, addressing societal challenges and driving progress. However, SMEs face significant obstacles, with research indicating that around five out of seven businesses fail in their first year. Access to financial services and seamless payment methods are among the key challenges faced by these enterprises.According to reports from the African Union Development Agency, approximately 90 percent of transactions in Africa are still cash-based, while nearly half of small businesses lack access to credit. Flutterwave has been dedicated to overcoming these challenges by connecting businesses to financial services and enabling various payment modes, including local and international cards, mobile wallets, and bank transfers. The partnership with Microsoft further strengthens Flutterwave’s mission to democratize payments in Africa and fuel business growth.By transitioning to Microsoft Azure, Flutterwave can process high-volume payments at scale, ensuring a secure and seamless payment experience for its clients. Azure’s advanced capabilities and infrastructure provide the technology foundation needed for Flutterwave to expand and revolutionize payment services across Africa. Additionally, through Azure OpenAI Service, Flutterwave has the opportunity to scale its product offering globally, empowering millions of merchants worldwide.Ola Williams, Country Manager of Microsoft Nigeria, emphasized the importance of digital financial inclusion for sustainable growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Enabling small businesses to participate actively in local and global marketplaces is crucial for building resilience and prosperity. The partnership between Microsoft and Flutterwave aims to provide businesses with the digital financial services they need to not only survive but thrive. Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, expressed excitement about the partnership, highlighting its transformative potential. He emphasized that the collaboration is not just about transactions but about transformation, as Flutterwave and Microsoft work together to create an inclusive digital Africa. The partnership will enable Flutterwave to expand its reach through transactable solutions on Azure Marketplace, including its SMB finance-as-a-service offering, further empowering businesses across the continent.

Microsoft and Flutterwave Partner to Drive Payment Innovation and Empower African Businesses

Microsoft’s strategic technology partnership with Flutterwave marks a significant step toward fast-tracking payment innovation in Africa and empowering small businesses for growth. By leveraging Microsoft Azure’s capabilities, Flutterwave aims to revolutionize payments, address financial inclusion challenges, and connect African businesses to the global stage. This collaboration aligns with Microsoft’s mission to empower individuals and organizations worldwide and holds the key to building stronger economies and a brighter future for Africa.


Source: ITNewsAfrica

South Africa’s Electricity Woes Drive UK Investment in Renewable Energy

In a surprising twist, South Africa’s unreliable electricity supply is attracting significant foreign investment in renewable energy, with the United Kingdom emerging as the leading foreign investor in the sector. The UK’s trade envoy for South Africa and Mauritius, Andrew Selous, recently highlighted the country’s commitment to renewable energy in an interview in Cape Town. Selous emphasized that the challenges faced by South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom, are driving UK commercial and industrial investment into renewable energy in South Africa.

One prominent example of UK investment in renewable energy is through companies like Globaleq, which currently operates two wind farms and six solar farms with a total capacity of 384MW. These projects support approximately 1,300 jobs and are set to expand further. British International Investment, the UK’s development finance institution, owns a majority stake of 70% in Globaleq.

Additionally, the UK’s Solar Century is actively involved in developing, building, owning, and operating solar power plants, including battery storage facilities. Gridworks, another UK company, is contributing to the expansion of the electricity grid capacity in South Africa.

The most significant UK investor in South Africa, according to Selous, is Hive Energy. Hive Energy is constructing a £5-billion green ammonia production plant in the Coega special economic development zone in the Eastern Cape. This facility aims to provide green energy for the maritime shipping industry, which has a substantial carbon footprint. Selous highlighted the potential collaboration between South Africa, which possesses 80% of the world’s platinum group metals, and the UK’s ITM company, which specializes in electrolyzers for hydrogen production. Such a partnership could leverage the expertise of both countries to produce hydrogen and foster a mutually beneficial relationship.

Selous also spoke about Rolls Royce’s ambition to establish South Africa as a hub for its plans to build small modular nuclear reactors across sub-Saharan Africa. This project holds the potential to create numerous jobs and bring technical expertise to the region.

Furthermore, several British companies, including Rio Tinto, are investing in renewable energy to power their operations. Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest mining companies, is allocating approximately $500 million to renewable energy projects, including solar and wind, to sustain its operations in South Africa.

Selous emphasized the importance of the UK’s trade relationship with South Africa, recognizing it as the most significant trading partnership with Africa. The combined trade between the two countries amounts to R258 billion annually, accounting for a quarter of the UK’s total trade with the entire African continent. UK investment in South Africa stands at R512 billion, representing half of the UK’s total investment in Africa.

Beyond renewable energy, Selous highlighted the active presence of British businesses in South Africa, particularly in Cape Town. Companies like Capita have created thousands of jobs and are expanding their operations, fostering economic growth and providing employment opportunities for young South Africans.

Selous acknowledged the challenges faced by South Africa, such as frequent power outages and infrastructure constraints, including railway and harbor bottlenecks. However, he emphasized the need for a strong government-business partnership and private sector investment to address these issues effectively. Selous expressed his optimism about South Africa’s potential to become a regional global energy superpower, given its abundant natural resources, including ample sunshine, wind, and coastal areas suitable for floating wind and tidal energy generation.

The UK government is also playing a significant role in South Africa’s energy transition through its joint financing, along with other countries, of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). This initiative supports South Africa’s transition away from coal-fired power generation by investing in renewable energy and ensuring a just transition for coal miners and their communities.

Selous concluded by expressing his confidence in the enduring strength and significance of the trade and investment relationship between the UK and South Africa. He revealed that the UK had invited President Ramaphosa to give the keynote address at its African investment summit, underscoring the commitment to fostering economic ties between the two countries.

As South Africa moves forward with its green economy journey, Selous encouraged greater investment in renewables to avoid potential carbon border adjustment mechanisms and to create a sustainable future. He emphasized that time is of the essence, and urgency is required to attract investors and ensure the success of these initiatives.

With a shared vision for a greener future, the partnership between the UK and South Africa is poised to bring about positive change, economic growth, and job creation in both countries for years to come.


Source: Daily Maverick SA

Glasgow Man Passes Away After Undisclosed Battle with Lung Cancer, Leaving Family Devastated

A Glasgow man, Mark Namegni, tragically lost his life just two months after experiencing pain in his side, leaving his family in profound grief. Mark had initially raised concerns about the discomfort to his wife, Nathalie, following a football game with friends on August 8. Despite attempting to go to work the next day, his condition worsened, leading him to seek medical attention.

After undergoing an X-ray and having fluid drained from the affected area, Mark’s pain persisted. Heartbreakingly, on August 10, he received the devastating news that he had lung cancer.

Mark spent nearly a month in the hospital receiving treatment, but he chose to keep his diagnosis a secret from his loved ones. It wasn’t until shortly before his passing that his wife discovered the truth about his battle with the deadly disease.

Nathalie recounted the sequence of events, saying, “Mark felt some pain in his side when he went to play football with his friends. He went to work the next day because he didn’t think the pain was serious, but when he got to work he still felt the pain. He went to the hospital to have it checked.”

Following medical examinations, Mark received the cancer diagnosis, discovering that the disease had already begun spreading throughout his body. He kept his hospitalization a secret from his wife, who was unaware of his condition until he was discharged and called to see her.

Nathalie was shocked by his appearance when she finally saw him, as he had lost a significant amount of weight. She tearfully recounted the heart-wrenching experience, saying, “When I saw him, I couldn’t recognize him, he lost so much weight. I started crying and asking what happened.”

Despite Mark’s deteriorating health and increasing difficulty in walking, he was hesitant to return to the hospital. However, his family, including his best friend and brother-in-law, attempted to persuade him to seek medical care. Eventually, an ambulance was called, and Mark was taken back to the hospital.

Mark leaves behind three children, one aged three and a set of twins who turned two shortly after their father’s passing. Nathalie had hoped to celebrate their milestone birthday alongside her husband. However, Mark had kept his illness hidden until it was too late for any effective intervention.

Nathalie shared her anguish, revealing, “The doctor told me that Mark had lung cancer. He explained to me that he didn’t want me to worry about it, that’s why he hid it. I was told by the doctor to stay with my husband because it was too late to help him. I was still hoping he’d be okay, and Mark kept saying he’d be here for the kids.”

The sudden and untimely loss of Mark has left a profound void in the lives of his family and friends. Described as a kind and loving person, Mark always prioritized the well-being and protection of his loved ones.

Fritz Manga, Mark’s best friend, expressed his grief, saying, “He was a happy guy. He enjoyed people’s company and playing football with the boys. All of a sudden, we noticed he was absent. He tried to hide it from us as well. What is upsetting us is that we didn’t know earlier so we could spend quality time with him before he went. He was my childhood friend. We convinced him to come over so we could be closer.”

To fulfill Mark’s final request, his friends and family are currently raising funds to repatriate his body to Cameroon. This gesture will allow him to be laid to rest in his home country.

King Charles III to Address Colonial Past and Strengthen Ties During Landmark Visit to Kenya

In a historic move to foster reconciliation and strengthen diplomatic ties, Britain’s King Charles III is set to embark on a significant visit to Kenya, where he will meet with Kenyan President William Ruto in Nairobi in the coming weeks. Buckingham Palace announced on Wednesday that during the four-day visit, from October 31 to November 3, the king will address the “painful aspects” of Britain’s colonial past.

The visit holds special significance for both nations, as it coincides with Kenya’s celebration of 60 years of independence from British rule. Charles, accompanied by his delegation, will engage in a range of activities aimed at deepening understanding and promoting cooperation between the two countries.

One of the key highlights of the visit will be a tour of the Nairobi National Park, where Charles and Ruto will witness firsthand the importance of conservation efforts and discuss strategies to combat the pressing climate crisis. The discussions will also focus on collaborations in the field of national security, as both nations seek to strengthen their mutual cooperation in this crucial area.

Chris Fitzgerald, the king’s deputy private secretary, emphasized the significance of this visit during a press conference, stating, “His majesty will take time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya.” By acknowledging the painful history between the two nations, Charles aims to promote healing and reconciliation, while also affirming the commitment of the British monarchy to address the consequences of colonialism.

The forthcoming visit also holds personal significance for the royal family. In 1952, then-Princess Elizabeth, Charles’s mother, received the news of her ascension to the throne while in Kenya following the passing of her father, King George VI. Charles himself has previously visited Kenya in 1971, thus making this visit a continuation of the family’s connection with the East African nation.

This visit to Kenya marks yet another milestone in King Charles III’s efforts to strengthen ties with former British colonies. Earlier this year, he successfully undertook royal tours to Germany in March and France in September, reaffirming the importance of diplomacy and fostering friendly relations between nations. Charles’s commitment to engaging with Commonwealth countries was also evident in his attendance at a meeting for the heads of Commonwealth governments in 2022.

As the head of a nation that once held dominion over many countries, King Charles III’s visit to Kenya serves as a testament to the evolving nature of international relations. By confronting the painful aspects of the past, the British monarchy aims to forge a path of understanding and cooperation, laying the foundation for a brighter future between Britain and Kenya.