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Kenya's Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe speaks at Mbagathi Hospital during the launch of an isolation centre for coronavirus, in Nairobi, Kenya on March 6 2020. Image: REUTERS/Njeri Mwangi Kenya said on Friday it was seeking an extra 11 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, on top of 24 million already ordered, and hopes to have 16 million people inoculated by June next year. Sourced from major pharmaceutical manufacturers like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the extra doses will be acquired through the African Union's disease control and prevention body. The country will obtain supplies from manufacturers directly if needed, it said. The East African nation of more than 50 million people aims to vaccinate 1.25 million in phase one of the campaign by June this year, senior health ministry official Mercy Mwangangi told reporters. This would cover health and care-home workers as well as security and immigration personnel. The objective is to vaccinate 16 million against Covid-19 by June next year, she told a news conference. "If more vaccines become available...then this target may change," she said. As wealthier nations race ahead with mass immunisation campaigns, Africa is scrambling to obtain supplies for its 1.3 billion people. Only a few nations on the continent have begun administering vaccines. On Thursday, the African Union said it had secured another 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as part of its push to immunise 60% of the continent's population over a three-year period. Mwangangi said the second phase of vaccination would involve 9.7 million people, comprising all those above 50 years old and those above 18 years old with underlying medical conditions, running between July this year and June next year. The third phase, to unfold concurrently with the second, will be aimed at 4.9 million people including those living in congested areas and seen as particularly vulnerable, she said. Earlier this month, Mutahi Kagwe, Kenya's health minister, said Kenya had ordered 24 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca which it expected to start arriving in the second week of February. On Friday, Mwangangi told Reuters that Kenya plans to offer the Covid-19 vaccine shots free of charge to its citizens. She said Kenya will pay $7.70 per shot of the vaccines as negotiated under the COVAX facility. "In Kenya, particularly any vaccine that will be sourced through public financing, there shall be no payment by Kenyans. It shall be free," Mwangangi said. For those who opt to get the vaccine privately, there will be a "minimum surcharge". Reuters/Times Live
Donald Trump's trial is due to start on Feb 8 - AFP Former President Donald Trump has parted ways with his lead impeachment lawyers just over a week before his Senate trial is set to begin, two people familiar with the situation said on Saturday. Butch Bowers and Deborah Barbier, both South Carolina lawyers, are no longer with Mr Trump's defence team. One of the people described the parting as a "mutual decision" that reflected a difference of opinion on the direction of the case. Both insisted on anonymity to discuss private conversations. Three other lawyers associated with the team, Josh Howard of North Carolina and Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris of South Carolina, also parted ways with Mr Trump, another source said. The upheaval injects fresh uncertainty into the makeup and strategy of Mr Trump's defence team as he prepares to face charges that he incited the insurrection at the USÂ Capitol on Jan. 6. However, all but five Senate Republicans this week voted in favour of an effort to dismiss the trial before it even started, making clear a conviction of the former president is unlikely regardless of his defense team. Greg Harris and Johnny Gasser, two former federal prosecutors from South Carolina, are also off the team, one of the people said. Mr Trump has struggled to find attorneys willing to defend him after becoming the first president in history to be impeached twice. He is set to stand trial the week of Feb. 8 on a charge that he incited his supporters to storm Congress before President Joe Biden's inauguration in an attempt to halt the peaceful transition of power. After numerous attorneys who defended him previously declined to take on the case, Mr Trump was introduced to Mr Bowers by one of his closest allies in the Senate, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Mr Bowers, a familiar figure in Republican legal circles, had years of experience representing elected officials and political candidates, including then-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford against a failed impeachment effort that morphed into an ethics probe. Mr Bowers and Ms Barbier did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Saturday evening. Republicans and Mr Trump aides have made clear that they intend to make a simple argument in the trial: Mr Trump's trial is unconstitutional because he is no longer office. While Republicans in Washington had seemed eager to part ways with Mr Trump after the deadly events of Jan. 6, they have since eased off of their criticism, weary of angering the former president's loyal voter base. CNN was first to report the departure of the lawyers. Telegraph/Yahoo News
South Sudan will switch to a new official time zone in February. Photo Nation Media Group South Sudan plans to reset its clock, moving back one hour on February 1. The change, which moves the country an hour behind its key trading partners Uganda and Kenya, is meant to align it to the time zone based on its geographical location. “The National Ministry of Labour informs all the civil service institutions, commissions, diplomatic missions, UN agencies, international/non-governmental organisations and the public at large that South Sudan has changed its official time from UTC +3 to UTC +2, which is based on South Sudan’s real location on the globe,” the Labour undersecretary Mary Hillary Wani Pitia said in statement on Friday. The Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is often interchanged with Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), but while there is no time difference between UTC and GMT, the latter is a time zone used in some European and African countries. The dateline – an imaginary longitude 180o that runs from pole to pole – zig zags east and west to accommodate the needs and demands of countries along its route. Most countries use hourly offsets from GMT. Countries can, however, set their own time for political reasons or to keep the same time zone with border countries. The switch by South Sudan will see it move from the East African time zone (GMT +3) – observed by Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti – to the Central African time zone (GMT +2). Some of the countries in this time zone include Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa and Egypt. “The current time will be set back by one hour, meaning 1:00 am will be reset to 00:00 am effective from 1st February 2021,” said Ms Pitia. The change was approved by South Sudan’s Cabinet two weeks ago but came under heavy criticism by citizens on social media. The government spokesperson, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the country has not been using its real time. - Garang A. Malak, The EastAfrican
Photo The Standard President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) today met thousands of delegates at the Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri where leaders from Mt Kenya region voiced their unanimous support for the Building Bridges Initiative. While praising the BBI report, the leaders led by Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga told Uhuru they will not allow divisive politics and external influence to disrupt the peace and unity of the region. The leaders who included representatives of the youth, women, politicians and other grassroots formations made the assurance during the consultative meeting at Sagana. Speaking during the meeting, the leaders said their region stands to benefit from the constitutional reform process. The 7000 plus delegates turned up at Sagana as the President toured his home turf amid political undertone. All eyes are set on him on whether he would tame the vote-rich Mount Kenya bloc that seems to be slipping away. The attendants were drawn from the 10 counties as the President completed day two of his Central region tour. This comes as 10 county assemblies on Friday assured Uhuru they will pass the BBI legislation within the required legal timeline. The assurance by Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Murang'a, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Laikipia and Nakuru County Assemblies was made on Friday at Sagana during a meeting between the Head of State and 550 MCAs and their respective leadership teams. Led by their County Assembly Speakers and House Leaders, the MCAs said they back the BBI process because it will allocate more development resources to the grassroots. With the 2022 general election already in the horizon and the Building Bridges Initiative debate hotting up, Uhuru met leaders to discuss the region's development as well as other pertinent national agenda including the BBI. Uhuru on Friday started his four-day pitch for the BBI by offering a sweetener that could change the tide for the constitutional reform moment. The President acceded to demands by MCAs to be given car grants, adding that the same would be given to all ward representatives across the country. Uhuru also stated that although he would be retiring, he would still have a say in the political scene. “I will still sit in the negotiation table to ensure that our region is not taken lightly,” he said during a meeting with the leaders at Sagana State Lodge. At the same time, Uhuru pleaded with Mt Kenya leaders to delink his succession politics from the BBI process, saying, “I have never said I will support or not support someone (to succeed me) so I wonder why all the hullaballoo.” “I never said we shall elect so and so. I only said we shall support whoever was more popular than the others and I said we should widen our circle of friends so that we are safe, whoever is in power,” he said. Unlike before when the president read the riot act to the local leaders, yesterday he appeared reconciliatory, telling his allies “not to bother answering what the other people are saying”. - Jael Mboga, The Standard
Photo African Union With the African Continental Free-trade Area (AfCFTA) now operational, there are new opportunities for the UK and Africa to strengthen their trade and investment ties. AfCFTA came into effect on 1 January – a significant milestone in the journey towards creating a single market for goods and services. With a combined GDP of $3.3 trillion and a market of 1.2 billion people, AfCFTA has the potential to increase growth in Africa by $450 billion over the next decade, according to the World Bank’s estimates. By removing tariffs, reducing trade barriers, and standardizing regulatory frameworks, intra-African trade could rise from 15% currently to 25% by 2040, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The benefits of intra-regional trade are well known, and some examples already exist on the continent. Trademark East Africa, an initiative supported by the UK government that is aimed at driving trade across the East African community, has been effective in increasing trade flows and reducing trade costs by up to 10%. This initiative should be scaled to other regions in Africa to supplement AfCFTA and accelerate its rollout. Although the initial benefits will stem from increased intra-African trade, we believe that AfCFTA also provides a huge opportunity to boost the UK-Africa trade corridor. It will also stimulate significant investments into the continent, particularly in sectors such as technology, manufacturing and infrastructure. To achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that Africa requires up to US$600 billion per year in incremental financing. Given the nature of Africa’s development challenges, patient capital is the order of the day. The pursuit of short-term returns will, in many cases, lead to the wrong investment decisions. As such, investors must have long-term views that are underpinned by a clear purpose and value proposition. AfCFTA is a flagship programme under the African Union’s (AU’s) 2063 agenda. Together with the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2063 agenda provides a strategic framework for inclusive economic growth. To maximize long-term returns and create shared value, British and African corporates are therefore able to align their strategies with this framework. And as African corporates grow while addressing the continent’s developmental challenges, the UK’s capital markets will have a role to play as a reliable source of funding. Since 2018, Standard Bank has raised more than $7 billion for its corporate and sovereign clients from the UK’s capital markets. The depth of the country’s financial markets was exemplified in June 2020 when, amid the first wave of COVID-19, London-listed telecoms group Helios Towers issued Eurobonds worth $750 million. Further, we assisted Acorn Holdings with issuing East Africa’s first green bond for green-certified student accommodation – an instrument that was cross-listed on the International securities market (ISM) of the London Stock Exchange. I believe that with these new opportunities at hand, African corporates and sovereigns could delve deeper into the UK’s capital markets to fund their growth on the continent. Lessons from COVID-19 One of the lessons from COVID-19 is that we need each other, and partnerships between nations and the private and public sectors are critical. Private sector-led economic growth, enabled by market-friendly policies, should be the template for public-private partnerships in Africa. Africa’s growth story has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has certainly not been derailed. The World Bank’s 2021 GDP forecast for sub-Saharan Africa is growth of 2.7%, and the continent’s underlying structural drivers remain firmly in place. We must turn the challenges the continent faces into opportunities. As Africa gears up for a COVID-19 recovery and the UK charts its own path in the wake of Brexit, new opportunities are coming to the fore, particularly for purpose-driven organizations. Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive for Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group - Ventures Africa

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