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 File: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at a campaign event in June (REUTERS)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is on the frontline with the army fighting rebellious Tigrayan forces in the northeastern Afar region, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported.

Abiy was wearing military fatigues and speaking to the television in the local Oromiya and Amharic languages, according to the broadcast on Friday.

He announced late on Monday night that he would personally direct the fight against rebellious forces from the northern region of Tigray and their allies. The year-long civil war has been escalating in recent weeks as the rebels advance on Addis Ababa.

“The morale of the army is very exciting,” he said, promising to capture the town of Chifra, on the border between Tigray and Afar, by the end of Friday. 

“We won’t flinch backward till we bury the enemy and ensure Ethiopia’s freedom. What we need to see Ethiopia that stands by itself, and we will die for it,” Abiy said.

The Ethiopian PM, who is a former soldier, won the Nobel Prize in 2019 for leading negotiations that ended with a peace agreement with neighbouring Eritrea – a deal that sidelined the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF).

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the year-long war between Ethiopian and allied forces and fighters from the country’s northern Tigray region, who long dominated the national government before Mr Abiy took office.

The conflict has intensified in recent weeks as the TPLF and their allies have advanced and are threatening to march on the capital.

Mediation efforts by the U.S. and African Union in pursuit of a cease-fire and talks have made little apparent progress .

Canada on Friday became the latest country to urge its citizens to leave Ethiopia urgently, following similar warnings by nations including the UK, France and Germany.

The conflict has created a huge humanitarian crisis in Africa’s second most populous country.

The spread of the year-old conflict into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions mean that 9.4 million need food aid as a direct result of ongoing conflict, the U.N.’s World Food Program announced on Friday.

More than 80% of those in need are behind the battlelines, it added.

Information from Tigray is scant because foreign media have been barred from there for much of the war, with communications links severed. Late on Thursday, Ethiopia‘s government issued an order seeking to restrict media reporting of the war, forbidding the sharing of non-official information on "military-related movements, battlefront results and situations." Reuters / AP

A healthcare worker collects a swab from Bronwen Cook for a PCR test against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before traveling to London, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 26, 2021. Photo Reuters


Kenya has not banned travel to southern Africa but its Ministry of Health says it will carefully screen people arriving from South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong for the new COVID variant discovered in South Africa.

The Kenyan government directs passengers arriving from southern African countries to take the COVID test before being allowed into the country.

South Africa and Botswana have reported a new variant in their countries that scientists say is highly transmittable and vaccine resistant.

Kenya’s Director General for Health Patrick Amoth told VOA his country is on high alert to combat the new variant.

"We are working to ensure that our surveillance system is top-notch and looking specifically at people coming from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong to put them through a robust surveillance system," said Amoth. "We insist on having you fully vaccinated before you come to the country. And you also need to have a negative PCR test taken 96 hours before your arrival in the country.”

This week, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta traveled to South Africa, where he signed deals to boost trade and economic cooperation between the two countries,

To combat the spread of the virus in the population, the East African nation launched a ten-day mass vaccination campaign Friday. Kenya has vaccinated at least 6.5 million people.

Amoth says they have enough vaccines to inoculate even more.

"It’s part of the ongoing vaccination process and we wanted to scale up in view of the events that are happening in Europe and the rest of the world," said Amoth. "So to ensure we reach herd immunity and the entire population is protected and now we have more vaccines available we thought to be able to scale up so that we can be able to reach more people.”

Amoth expressed confidence that more Kenyans will get vaccinated.

"For example, yesterday we vaccinated close to 111,000 people from the previous daily rate of about 50,000-60,000," said Amoth. "So Kenyans are enthusiastic to be able to take the vaccine and also now this emerging information we believe will sway the public opinion towards going for the vaccine instead of vaccine hesitancy.”

Kenya has a policy of not providing government services to unvaccinated people as a way of encouraging them to get inoculated.
Kenya hopes to vaccinate 10 million people by the end of the year. - Mohammed Yusuf, Voice of America

Photo Courtesy ABC

Spotify has launched its self-serve ad platform, Ad Studio, in Kenya. The audio streaming platform also launched the platform in Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda making the advertising medium available to even more artists around the globe.

Ad Studio is a tool on the Spotify platform that allows artists, brands and businesses to easily run audio and video ads. Advertisers can create a campaign within minutes, and the platform provides flexibility and control to set up and manage campaigns in real-time.

Never made an audio ad? Spotify makes it easy — you can build a custom audio ad for free right in Ad Studio, in as little as 24 hours.

Spotify has already launched Ad Studio in other markets, including America and Europe, and says it looks forward to the impact this will have in emerging markets like Sub-Saharan Africa, where audio streaming is on the rise.

To advertise with this tool, advertisers need to spend a minimum of KES 27,000. Ad Studio provides advertisers with free audio creation tools including background music mixing, voiceover talent, audience targeting and real-time reporting.

“Reaching audiences with Spotify Ad Studio is efficient and easy,” said Christopher Li, Director of Digital Planning & Products APAC at Live Nation and Spotify Ad Studio user. “You can decide to target listeners by genre preferences, interests, and context, etc. It only takes us a few minutes to create a campaign, and the free voiceover service saves a lot of effort, too.”  Source: ABC


President Kagame in a group photo with heads of parliament from different African countries that subscribe to the Commonwealth. This was after he opened the 17th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Commonwealth. He urged them to be at the forefront to build Africa’s resilience to different threats. / Photo: Village Urugwiro. 

President Paul Kagame has called upon all national parliaments to back the treaty on African Medicines Agency (AMA), which has now entered into force. The President made the observation on Wednesday, November 24, as he opened the 17th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) - Africa Region. 

The conference focuses on, among other topics, retooling Parliaments for effective and efficient oversight. 

“This is a landmark agreement that will help ensure that vaccines and medications in Africa are both high-quality and locally produced,” he said of the African Medicines Agency treaty. 

The AMA Treaty was adopted by Heads of State and Government during their 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly on 11 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Delegates during the opening of the 17th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Commonwealth in Kigali, on November 24. Photo: Village Urugwiro.

This treaty went into force on November 5, 2021, 30 days after the deposit of the 15th instrument of ratification, by the Republic of Cameroon at the African Union Commission.

As of November 9, 2021, 17 member states including Rwanda had ratified the treaty establishing the continental agency and deposited the legal instrument of ratification to the Commission. In total, 26 member states had assented to the treaty.

AMA is a specialised agency of the African Union (AU) intended to facilitate the harmonisation of medical products regulation throughout the AU in order to improve access to quality, safe and efficacious medical products on the continent.

Following a similar model of the European Medicines Agency, AMA is intended to have a wide scope covering medical products – medicines (including traditional and ‘modern’ ones), vaccines, blood and blood products, diagnostics and medical devices.

Such efforts are intended to address a deficiency in drug production and challenges posed by counterfeit and substandard products.

Among its functions, AMA will develop systems to monitor, evaluate and assess the comprehensiveness of national medical products regulatory systems with the view to recommend measures that will improve efficiency and effectiveness.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa suffers more than its fair share of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Over 90 percent of the world’s malaria deaths and 70 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS are in Africa.

WHO also indicates that 95 percent of all medicines used in Africa are imported and the continent accounts for just 3 percent of all medicine production globally.

Moreover, WHO says that the Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed Africa’s vulnerabilities in ensuring access to vital drugs, vaccines, and health technologies and more and more African governments view the supply of safe, effective, and affordable medicines and vaccines as a national security issue.

It indicated that boosting local production will save lives, improve public health and strengthen African economies, including supporting local jobs. It should also trigger the sharing of crucial technologies.

Increase funding

Lentheng Ntombi Mekgwe, Speaker of Gauteng provincial legislature in South Africa told The New Times from Kigali that members of the executive councils like Presidents and Ministers of Health must ensure that they invest more resources “to ensure that we create our own research and development capacity.”

“We do have experts in our own countries, and yet we are not giving them enough support to be able to actually do some research and come up with a vaccine or health protocols that will help all of us,” she said.

“Therefore, as African countries we need to come together and develop that kind of support to ourselves before we can even look off-shore to get the support from other countries,” she said.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Justin Muturi, Speaker of the Kenyan National Assembly, said that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of African Governments in terms of the ability to adequately and effectively deal with shocks to the economic and social structures.

“Limitations in health financing are far below the 15 percent of annual budgets agreed upon by Heads of State of African Union countries at the Abuja Declaration of 2001,” said Muturi, who is also the outgoing Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa-Region.

Amos Masondo, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces of the Republic of South Africa said that if anything, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that Africa needs to develop her own capacity to address her challenges.

“We saw how wealthy nations elsewhere pre-ordered billions of doses as a means of securing advanced access to vaccines [against Covid-19], something which placed the low and middle-income countries in a predicament,” he said. By Emmanuel Ntirenganya, New Times

Photo Courtesy African Business Community

Jumia has announced the appointment of Betty Mwangi, as Kenya’s new Chief Executive Officer. She takes over the leadership mantle from former CEO Sam Chappatte.

She will focus on accelerating corporate growth as the company continues to expand its already strong position as the number one shopping online platform.

Betty was recognized as one of the Top 10 most influential women in the mobile telecommunication industry by MCI and was also named twice as one of the Top 20 most powerful African women. An engineer with 20 years of experience in the telecommunications, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries, she previously served as Group Commercial Director for Britam Group PLC from 2016 to 2021, a company she originally joined in 2013. She also worked as Director of Financial Services for Safaricom MPESA from inception in 2007 to 2016. 

“It is a great honour to be an integral part of Jumia’s journey as we continue to tap the power of the Internet to transform Africa. I look forward to working with the team to expand the Jumia universe and trust that my experience and passion for digital innovation will help to propel Jumia to greater heights. 

I am excited by the opportunity to have a positive impact on the everyday lives of Kenyans through e-commerce,” she said.

“Betty has an impressive track record and brings a great breadth and depth of experience to Jumia. She will play an important role in furthering our customer-focused commitment as we reach an inflection point in our growth trajectory,” said Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, co-CEOs of Jumia.

“We extend our sincere thanks to Sam Chappatte as he departs our team after seven years with us, five of which were spent as Jumia Kenya’s CEO. We have achieved tremendous progress under his leadership, and wish him the very best in his new endeavours.”

Jumia Kenya employs more than 500 people and more than 15,000 sellers are connected to hundreds of thousands of Kenyan consumers through the Jumia online marketplace. Source: ABC

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