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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 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



DAR ES SALAAM, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Tanzania will now allow girls aged 12 to 19 years who left school due to pregnancy to resume formal education after giving birth, its education minister said on Wednesday, ending a ban on the return of such students which has been criticised by rights groups as discriminatory.

The move comes after a June announcement by the ministry that secondary school dropouts, including girls who became pregnant while in school, would be able to resume studies in alternative colleges.

"The government has decided that all students who drop out of school for various reasons will be given an opportunity to return to school," Joyce Ndalichako, minister of education, science and technology, told a news conference in the administrative capital Dodoma.

"This opportunity involves all girls who got pregnant while studying in primary and secondary schools. These students will be allowed to continue with studies in formal education systems after giving birth." 

According to the World Bank, more than 120,000 girls drop out of school annually in Tanzania, 6,500 of whom were due to pregnancy or having children.

"This important decision underscores the country’s commitment to support girls and young women and improve their chances at receiving a better education," the bank said in a statement.

Human rights groups have criticised Tanzania's ban on the return of students to formal education after giving birth.

Such expulsions had increased under the tenure of President John Magufuli, who died in March, according to rights groups, who accused his government of discriminating against female students based on a policy that dated back to 1961.

Wednesday's announcement was met with some scepticism.

"To be clear, let us wait (for) details from the government notice on the matter," Rebeca Gyumi, a renowned Tanzanian girls rights activist, said on Twitter. - Nuzulack Dausen, Reuters

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

Injured police officers lying on the ground

Victims and witnesses have recounted scenes of horror after bombs went off last Tuesday at the central police station in Kampala and Parliamentary Avenue, killing at least seven people and injuring 37 persons –including 27 police officers and 10 civilians.

The bomb blasts at CPS, Kampala, and at the Inspectorate of Government office on Parliamentary Avenue drew outrage across the country. Our investigation retraces the last steps of victims and witnesses and reveals how the blasts shook the country and devastated lives.

Police Constable (PC) Isaac Ekip, 29, was hit by bomb fragments in the face and legs. Interviewed about the incident at his house in Kasangati police barracks, Ekip said he was hit at the CPS quarter guard. Ekip has worked at CPS for four years now. He was transferred from Kasangati police station.

Ekip who walks with a limp has wounds all over his face and legs. As we settled for the interview about the incident, he said his ears were numbed by the blast. He said he couldn’t hear very well.

So, I had to sit very close to him and shout out my questions directly into his ears throughout the interview. On the fateful day, Tuesday, November 16, Ekip said, he woke up at his usual time; 5 am, put on his police uniform,
and boarded a car to get to his workstation, CPS.

He reached at 6 am, signed for his gun, and ate his breakfast. At around 8 am, Ekip and his other colleagues went to man their station at the police quarter guard on the Buganda road entrance.

“Just like any other day, we parked our police patrol at the quarter guard as we waited to respond to any emergency, which may require our attention around the city. I was seated at the quarter guard talking to other officers but I got tired and went to sit in the patrol car, which was smashed completely by the bomb. But it was too hot inside; so, I decided to sit outside near the pavement where other officers were,” Ekip said.

Thirty minutes before the bomb went off, Ekip said, he only saw ordinary people walk by going into the CPS build- ing. They were checked and directed where to go for assistance, he said.

When the bomb exploded, Ekip said, he first thought it was a car tyre burst but after seeing a cloud of smoke in the air, he realized it was something more serious.

“When I heard the explosion, I jumped down and that is when I realized that I was bleeding. I ran behind the CPS park yard where we park impounded cars and motorcycles but when I reached there, I realized that I didn’t have my gun; so, I rushed back to the scene to get it. And that is when I saw that my fellow officers had also been injured and officer Amos Kungu was already lying dead,” Ekip said.

The bomb fragments cut Ekip above the nose, neck, lips, and legs. After the explosion, Ekip said, they were taken inside the CPS premises, and disarmed. He said that is when he remembered to call his wife and tell her about the bomb before they were put onto police patrol cars and rushed to Mulago hospital.

He spent Tuesday night at Mulago hospital and was discharged the following day (Wednesday) at 3 pm after a head x-ray examination. There were no internal injuries or bomb fragments found inside the head, he said. About 10 bomb fragments were removed from his body at the hospital.

“After the treatment at Mulago, the doctors prescribed some medicine upon being discharged which I was told I had to buy for myself outside because it was not available at the hospital. Right now what is worrying me is the hearing problem, which I am taking medication for. The doctors told me if the dose gets finished without any improvement, I will require further treatment,” he said.

Police Constable Allan Ayebare, 36, is another survivor of last week’s bomb blast at CPS. He has been a police officer since 2015 but has been at CPS for about four years now.

He told The Observer that before the bomb went off on Tuesday morning, he was at the quarter guard with other police officers reading newspapers.

“I came with officer Amos Kungu [who died at the scene]. We had breakfast and then sat in the quarter guard but he [Kungu] remained outside because he was the one in charge of the entrance checkpoint that day. I grabbed a newspaper from Fred Katongole (patrol vehicle driver) who remained leaning outside the quarter guard and that is why he was badly injured,” Ayebare said.

Before the bomb blast, Ayebare said the suicide bomber had tried to enter the CPS building but was blocked by Kungu who was in charge of the checkpoint because he refused to have his bag checked.

“The man [suicide bomber] tried to get past the checkpoint and proceed into the CPS premises but was blocked by Kungu because he refused to have his bag checked. Kungu chased him away and he moved towards the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Developement offices but made a U-turn and moved towards Buganda road pretending to be talking on the phone. When he reached where most police officers were, he exploded,” Ayebare said.

Ayebare said the bomber looked to be in his early thirties, slender, tall and dark-skinned carrying a backpack. When the explosion happened, Ayebare, who was inside the quarter guard with six other police officers, fell to the ground. When he tried to stand up a few minutes later, he realized he had been hit by bomb fragments and his left leg was burnt. He said his left ear was numb. He couldn’t hear anything. Another fragment had hit him around the left rib and pieces of human flesh were all over his uniform.

“Our deployment officer who had come out after the explosion ordered those who could walk to get inside the premises and sent other officers to lift those who had been badly injured. I was lifted by a CID woman who took me up near the Ministry of Gender offices where the patrol car found us and rushed us to Mulago hospital,” Ayebare said.

He said Kungu breathed his last as he held him in his hands. One of Kungu’s legs was smashed by the bomb and lay next to a woman who was taking food to a suspect inside the police cell at CPS. She was severely injured. Ayebare said he did not take long at Mulago hospital. His relatives transferred him to a private clinic immediately.

Though Ayebare can walk now, he still has bomb fragments in his left calf. He has been told by doctors that they won’t be removed because it would require cutting off the whole calf muscles. He said doctors are giving him medicine, which will mold the fragments into the body.

He also has a fragment lodged in his left upper rib, which will be removed after thorough medical cross-examination to ascertain that it doesn’t affect the ribcage. Prior to the incident, both Ekip and Ayebare said security at CPS had been beefed up since the Komamboga bomb blast.

People were not allowed to loiter around. Cars were not allowed to park around and people were not allowed to enter with luggage into the CPS premises.

According to police reports, the two bomb blasts at CPS and Parliamentary Avenue on Tuesday, November 16, injured 37 persons out of whom 27 were police officers and 10 civilians.

So far seven people have been confirmed dead including a police officer attached to CPS, Amos Kungu, who died on the spot. The three dead civilians were identified as Ismail Basibe (who died at CPS), Christopher Sande (who died on the spot at Parliamentary Avenue), and George Katana (who died from Mulago hospital where he had been rushed).

The 27 injured police officers include; Joseph Kairugara, Andrew Kissa, Peter Eyotre, Catherine Akot, Bernard Wabwire, Silesian Akibua, Eunice Twongwire, Nicholas Muhumure, Mathew Adeun, Mimu Ssebunya, Brian Ojera, Denis Dhibaluma, Stephen Osmami, Doreen Birungi, Allan Ayebare, Isaac Ekip, Juleit Nasuna, Richard Ogwal, John Bosco Otai, Fiona Nakafeero, George Maseruka, Pius Andrew Deo Ongora, and Perepetua Nakato. Fred Katongole, a driver, and Daniel Tingu, a private security guard were also injured.


The bomb at CPS also shattered the opposite Kooki Tower, a commercial building with gadgets, clothes, footwear, and cosmetics shops and pharmacies.

Alex Kasozi, a boutique operator at the building, said he had just finished cleaning his shop on Tuesday morning when he had a loud explosion.

“At first I thought the building had collapsed because the whole building shook. I looked outside and saw everyone scattering in different directions, lots of smoke in the air and glass windows had been smashed. Moments later, police officers came around ordering us to close our shops and get out of the city,” Kasozi said.

The roads to Kooki Tower have been reopened now but Kasozi says business is still very slow. People are still scared of going near the building.

During our interview, a customer called. He wanted to buy a shirt but was afraid to pick it. Kasozi had to take it to him down at Mapeera house. Security at Kooki Tower has also been tightened. There are now three walk-through metal detectors at the main entrance.

Security guards are also doing body and luggage checks. On Parliamentary Avenue, Antonio, an eyewitness, said the suicide bombers on boda boda seemed disappointed that they couldn’t sneak into parliament. In a panic, he said, they detonated the bomb near the government offices.

“I was yet to take back shoes to my customer in his office at the IGG offices before the blast. Unfortunately, some of them were injured,” he added

“But I am lucky to have survived the incident because I was going to see other customers when I saw these young men on boda bodas stop and blow themselves. I collapsed and got back after some time,” he said.

A police officer at CPS, Kampala, who declined to be named, said they had been tipped off that insurgents planned to attack. He wondered why and how they were caught off guard by the suicide bombers.

“The suicide bombers and their collaborators capitalized on our reluctance and we are complimenting the military for safeguarding lives and property, but how the bombers beat our security checks to inflict the dishonorable act still beats our imagination,” the officer said.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. -Additional reporting by David Mwanje-The Observer

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