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African farmers urgently need government support to increase their use of digital tools. This is according to a new survey conducted by Savanta ComRes, commissioned by Vodacom. Over 200 farmers across South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Egypt were asked how they feel about digitalising their farms, how they are handling different threats like environmental challenges, geopolitical and societal pressures, as well as supply chain issues, which have caused a rise in equipment and materials costs.

As expected, climate change is top of the list of threats facing farmers in Africa. Nearly all farmers surveyed in Africa (93%) say climate change is affecting the financial viability of their farms. And around half of African farmers say that they have been impacted to a great extent by climate change (45%). This number rises to 62% in Tanzania and 52% in Kenya. Other threats cited by farmers include low market prices for crops and livestock, increased operating costs and a lack of support from the public sector.

War in Ukraine impacting availability of crucial farming resources 

Results also show that the war in Ukraine is having an impact; creating concern among farmers around fuel and energy costs, as well as the availability of key agricultural resources. The African markets are mostly worried about increased fuel and energy costs (52%), and the availability of fertiliser (42%). In addition, there was increased concern expressed among farmers from Egypt (51%), and South Africa (44%) about being cut off from existing markets.

This is where technology can help. The survey results highlight how digital technologies can help farmers manage with fewer resources and secure the future success of their operations; 89% of respondents in Africa felt this way and more than half of farmers said they were optimistic about the future of farming as an industry. The use of digital agri tools is already widespread.

The survey found that close to half of the farmers in Africa  are already using digital tools to reduce water use (41%) and to improve soil health (42%). There is also clear evidence that farmers are willing to further invest in digital technology to help them combat issues like climate change. Almost all of the surveyed African farmers (94%) plan to invest more in digital tools in the next 12 months. But there are challenges.

While farmers are keen to invest in future digital technologies, adoption isn’t easy. The cost of devices and other hardware is another prominent barrier for 48% of African farmers surveyed; access to reliable mobile connectivity and the cost of applications and software are other challenges.

Sources and types of supply

With farmers expressing a clear desire to use technology to overcome the challenges presented by climate change, the question is: what support is needed to help them do so, successfully?

While most of the surveyed farmers acknowledge that they are getting some help from government already, it is not enough. Around half (55%) of surveyed farmers in Africa say their government is taking action to support them and 87% of African farmers want more government support.
 
However, they are not only seeking financial support. Around 54% of farmers in Africa want assistance with training to help them make better use of digital solutions, which indicates that addressing barriers to the adoption of digital technology may start with addressing the lack of confidence in using these new technologies. Connectivity is also a key ask; 36% of respondents say that better mobile internet connectivity is something their governments can do to enable them to use more digital tools and solutions on their farms.

Shameel Joosub, CEO, Vodacom: ''Our farmers are facing unprecedented challenges and they need help. It is incredibly encouraging to see that this community is already embracing digital solutions and that they understand the value these tools and technologies offer. But more must be done to ensure that African farmers fully embrace precision agriculture.

Our farmers are willing to invest in digital tools and they are keen to use these tools to transform their operations. Governments working together with the private sectors must take note of the issues they face so that they can help these farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change, use farming resources and inputs more effectively and better provide for themselves, their families and their communities.''

Vodacom has made great strides in heeding this call to action, increasing network coverage across rural areas in its markets, and making affordable handsets available to millions of Africans to date, In Tanzania, the M-Kulima mobile platform connects smallholder farmers to a wealth of information and resources via short message service (SMS), unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), and interactive voice response (IVR).

M-Kulima provides timely weather forecasts that help farmers plan around climate change and offers important market information to help farmers get the best price for their products. M-Kulima is also integrated with the financial-services platform M-Pesa, to nurture financial inclusion by providing a mobile-phone-based money transfer service and enabling payments and micro-financing.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, the end-to-end DigiFarm platform – available via USSD or via the app – provides everything from basic farming advice to more advanced and mechanised support, much in the same way that M-Kulima does.

Methodology

The survey was conducted online in Europe and by telephone in Africa by Savanta Comres in 13 countries: Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Turkey, for Europe; Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania, for Africa. Fifty farmers were surveyed in each market, except in Romania, where 21 were surveyed. Respondents were from a cross-section of farm sizes. Field work took place in September and October 2022. Source: African Business Community 

Ramon Abbas had more than two million Instagram followers before he was arrested in 2020 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates [Instagram/Hushpuppi]

A Nigerian social media influencer who called himself Ray Hushpuppi and flaunted a lavish lifestyle supported by laundering millions of dollars was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to more than 11 years in federal prison.

Ramon Abbas, 40, was also ordered by a federal judge to pay $1.7m in restitution to two fraud victims, according to a statement from the United States Department of Justice.

 

Abbas was “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” Don Alway, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said in the statement.

Prosecutors said Abbas and a Canadian man laundered money from various online crimes including bank cyberheists and business email compromise, or BEC, a prolific crime in which crooks hack into email accounts, pretend to be someone they’re not, and fool victims into wiring money where it doesn’t belong.

In 2019, he helped launder some $14.7m stolen by North Korean hackers from a bank in Malta, funnelling the money through banks in Romania and Bulgaria, prosecutors said.

He also helped launder millions of pounds stolen from a British company and a professional football club in the United Kingdom, got a New York-based law firm to transfer nearly $923,000 to a criminal account, and acknowledged in a plea agreement that he helped defraud someone in Qatar who sought a $15m loan to build a school, federal prosecutors said. 

In July 2021, a top Nigerian police officer, Abba Kyari, was suspended by the country’s police service commission following an FBI indictment linking him to Abbas.

At Monday’s sentencing, Abbas was sentenced to 135 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay $922,857 in restitution to the law firm and $809,983 in restitution to the victim in Qatar.

“By his own admission, during just an 18-month period defendant conspired to launder over $300 million,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum, although they said much of the intended loss “did not ultimately materialise”.

Abbas, under the name “Ray Hushpuppi,” had more than two million Instagram followers before he was arrested in 2020 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Source: Aljazeera

RwandAir inaugural flight to London. / Courtesy

Heathrow Airport, a major international airport in London on Monday, November 7, welcomed RwandAir maiden direct flight, in a move intended to cater for the airline’s growing demand.

A highly placed source confirmed to The New Times that the national carrier landed in the morning hours of Monday. Passengers left Kigali around midnight.

The inaugural flight puts an end to a five-year long indirect service, where passengers traveling to London previously went through Brussels.

The new four times weekly service will be operated by A330 Aircraft, configured with two cabins (economy and business).

According to the airline, this is an increase from the airline’s three times a week service.

Flights are expected to depart Kigali every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 23:35pm, arriving in London at 06:20am the following morning.

The return flight departs the British capital at 20:30pm every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving at the Kigali International Airport at 07:00 the following morning.

According to RwandAir, the schedule will also provide quick and easy connections via Kigali to a wealth of destinations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

“We are excited to launch direct flights to London, which are on sale from today, due to the popularity of our current services,”RwandAir’s Chief Executive, Yvonne Manzi Makolo, said in an earlier interview.

“The UK is an incredibly important market for us, and we know our customers will value the shorter flight times and increased connections that will be offered by the new service,” she added.

RwandAir has previously laid out plans to improve connections for those traveling from ‘further afield’.

Just recently, the airline announced that it was exploring the possibility of joining the OneWorld Alliance, a major network bringing together different commercial airlines around the world.

RwandAir currently serves 28 destinations across East, Central, West, and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. By , The New Times

  • A collage photo of President William Ruto shortly after receiving the instruments of power on September 13, 2022 at the Kasarani Stadium and a parliamentary session at Parliament Buildings. FILE 
  • A plan to amend the constitution and scrap the two-term constitutional limit for Kenyan presidents as alluded to by Fafi Member of Parliament Salah Yakub continued to elicit mixed reactions. 

    Whilst the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) distanced itself from the reports, a section of opposition MPs and Kenyans vehemently expressed their contempt towards the proposal. 

    However, not known to many is that the process is more arduous than what meets the eye. 

    National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula addressing MPs in Parliament on Monday, October 4, 2022 .jpg
    National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula addressing MPs in Parliament on Monday, October 4, 2022. CITIZEN DIGITAL
     

    According to Constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi, the final decision on the question of whether Kenya should repeal the provision lies with the people.

    The lawyer stated that a decision of such a magnitude would require the input of the people through a referendum.  

    “Regardless of whether the proposal is initiated through Parliament or the people (popular initiative) it is one of the issues that must ultimately be subjected to a referendum. Ultimately, it is Kenyans who decide," he told Kenyans.co.ke. 

    The term limit for a president in Kenya is stipulated in article 142 of the Constitution of Kenya which states that a person shall not hold office as President for more than two terms. 

    Article 255 of the constitution further stipulates that any bill seeking to alter the term of office for a president should be subjected to the people's decision besides its approval by parliament. 

    To go through the parliament stage, the bill would require the backing of more than two-thirds of the members as opposed to the simple majority threshold used to pass ordinary bills. 

    In addition, Mkangi questioned the timing of the proposal arguing that it would be derision of Kenya's democratic and constitutional history. 

    "The debate must go beyond what the Constitution decides and get into why, when and how the proposal is being fronted and popularised," Mkangi noted.  

    "In as much as every Kenyan has a right to propose a constitutional amendment and have it processed through the appropriate processes and institutions,  I think and feel that this particular suggestion is a callous derision of Kenya's democratic and constitutional history and development considering the season.”

    According to Salah, the proposed amendment would see the limit changed from the two terms to an age limit where persons aged 70 years and above would be barred from hiding office.  This was, however, met by strong opposition from politicians from both sides of the divide. 

    Farah Salah Yakub recieving certificate from IEBC during August 9, elections
    Farah Salah Yakub recieving certificate from IEBC during August 9, elections   K24 DIGITAL
     
 

The Ugandan Air Force attacked and destroyed a big camp of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced Sunday.

The attack was conducted with the authorization of the Congolese government.

“Ugandans and other East Africans: This is to inform you that on Friday, with the authorization of the DRC government, the Ugandan Air Force attacked and destroyed a large ADF terrorist camp,” Museveni said on Twitter.

He noted that it was important for them to know the capacity Africa which possesses that can help it address chronic security challenges.

“The enemy, in desperation, has now fled beyond the boundary of our operations. The ignorant terrorists do not know that within just minutes -- not hours -- we can reach (them) with deadly fire, many areas, far beyond the line of the limit of exploitation,” said Museveni.

“Hence, on Friday, they got their deserved reward. Wherever they go, we shall reach them, as long as the Congo government allows us to operate with them,” he said, congratulating Ugandan and Congolese troops.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda launched joint military operations to flush out the ADF in the east of DR Congo in late 2021.

But the operations have been criticized for doing little to improve the security situation, prompting calls by civil society groups to end them.

In the latest attack attributed to ADF rebels, two people were wounded by gunfire Sunday during an ambush that targeted a civilian vehicle on the Mbau-Kamango road in Beni territory, North Kivu, the Congolese military said.

The ADF have been attacking and killing civilians in eastern DR Congo for over two decades. The group killed more than 1,300 civilians last year, according to the UN.

The joint operations in North Kivu and Ituri provinces were launched following a triple suicide bombing in Uganda’s capital city Kampala in which seven people were killed and dozens injured.

The ADF pledged allegiance to Islamic State in 2019.

Last year, the US placed the ADF on its list of “terrorist organizations” affiliated with ISIS. By James Tasamba, Anadolu Agency

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