ABUJA, Nigeria, 16 February, 2023 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/-Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL), a global health organization focused on preventing 100 million deaths from cardiovascular disease and making the world safer from epidemics, has announced the appointment of Dr. Iruka Okeke, Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology at University of Ibadan in Nigeria, to the RTSL Nigeria Board of Directors.
“Dr. Iruka Okeke’s extensive experience in infectious disease control, antimicrobial resistance, laboratory medicine and pharmacology will be important to the continued growth of RTSL Nigeria as we work to further support Nigeria’s progress in public health,” said Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives. “Dr. Okeke is a welcome addition to our Nigeria Board of Directors and we look forward to working with her.”
Dr. Okeke has been appointed to the RTSL Nigeria Board Directors, effective January 1, 2023. Dr. Okeke is Professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology and a Calestous Juma Science Leadership Fellow at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria as well as a Fellow of the Nigerian and African Academies of Science. Her research uses microbiology, genetic and genomic methods to investigate the mechanisms bacteria use to colonize humans, cause disease and gain drug resistance. She also works to improve laboratory practice in Africa, contributes to collaborative genomic surveillance for antimicrobial resistance and communicates about microbiology to a broad range of stakeholders.
“It is with pleasure that I join the RTSL Nigeria board. This group and its mission are particularly closely aligned to my own priorities,” said Dr. Okeke. “And I’m excited to contribute to an organization that has made such an impact in African countries and communities, and specifically in Nigeria.”
“Dr. Okeke brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the RTSL Nigeria Board of Directors,” said Dr. Ibrahim Abubakar, RTSL Nigeria Board Director and Dean of the University College London Faculty of Population Health Sciences. “I look forward to working with Dr. Okeke to advance progress on the ground and to continue improving lives.”
Resolve to Save Lives has seen marked growth in the past year as it established operations as a fully independent global public health organization. The addition of Dr. Okeke to its Nigeria Board of Directors will amplify this growth further as the Board guides major programmatic decisions and advises on future fundraising strategies. AMA
One of the least known information about the BRICS countries is that the chairmanship of the group is rotated annually amongst its members in accordance with the acronym of B-R-I-C-S.
Last year, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi chaired the bloc. This year, President Xi Jinping of China is at the helm, and next year it will be the turn of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will host the 15th BRICS Summit in 2023 and oversee the expansion of the bloc.
BRICS -- which is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- is more than just an acronym. It is a bloc of influential emerging market economies that are collaborating to restructure the global economic multilateral order to make it fairer, inclusive, and equitable. These nations account for about 42% of the world’s population and 24% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, they collectively hold less than 15% of voting rights in both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
It has been predicted that BRICS nations could by 2032 surpass the G-7 economies, which comprise world’s advanced economies including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the European Union, which collectively contribute 46% to the world’s GDP.
From its inception in 2009, BRICS has been vocal about the under-representation of developing and poor countries in the global financial system. They want the system to be transformed to reflect the development interests of poor countries, many of which are in Africa.
As South Africa prepares to take over the BRICS chairmanship, the bloc will continue pushing for equitable representation in international decision-making and supporting post-covid 19 global economic recovery and ill efforts to end the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, which is threatening poor nations with food insecurity due to high oil and food prices.
As BRICS chairman from 2023, President Ramaphosa will also oversee the expansion of the bloc, which may welcome new members. Soon after President Xi Jinping announced during the 14th BRICS summit that was held virtually in late June this year, Iran and Argentina announced that they had submitted their applications to join the group.
These announcements were followed by media reports that Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Kazakhstan Senegal, and Thailand were also interested in joining BRICS.
Although there are no criteria that has been set to determine how will the new BRICS members will be selected, any of the potential members will add weight to the bloc, which already consists of resource-rich nations and highly industrialised economies.
An expanded BRICS will be beneficial to South Africa as it will allow our country to extend its global influence and strengthen trade ties with a wide range of powerful, emerging market economies.
South Africa is considered as a door or entry point to Africa by many multinationals looking to do business on the continent and it also played a significant role in the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that has created a market of 1.4 billion people with a continentwide GDP of $2.6 trillion.
The AfCFTA, which was officially launched in January last year, has removed import tariffs, and will progressively promote regional integration, develop new regional value chains, and stimulate industrial and infrastructure development across Africa.
At the 14th BRICS Summit in late June, the bloc’s member countries, released a 75-point joint statement, known as the Beijing Declaration, which amongst other things, expressed support for AfCFTA. In the declaration, BRICS also committed to assisting Africa to accelerate industrialisation and infrastructure development, which are pre-conditions for driving trade and investment on the continent.
Given that South Africa has the most industrialised economy in Africa with an advanced logistics infrastructure and a sophisticated financial system, the country is in an advantageous position to capitalise on trade and investment benefits presented by AfCFTA and an expanded BRICS, particularly in key sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, e-commerce, and the services industry in which it has a competitive edge.
As a major food producer and exporter, South Africa is well positioned to ramp up its agricultural production to ease food shortages caused by the disruption of supply chains related to the Ukraine-Russia war.
Many African countries that are dependent on maize imports from Ukraine, which Ukraine is unable to deliver due to the ongoing conflict. I am confident that South African farmers can close the gap left by the absence or shortage of Ukrainian maize imports.
Agriculture is one of the strengths of South Africa’s economy and the sector produces an array of agricultural exports ranging from subtropical fruits, sugar, citrus, to wine, vegetables, wool, mohair, and meat.
There is no doubt that the enlargement of BRICS will benefit South Africa. The expansion comes at an opportune time when our country is implementing an economic recovery plan and structural reforms to make our economy globally competitive, reduce cost of doing business, attract investment, and stimulate economic growth.
As President Ramaphosa prepares to take over the BRICS chairmanship, I urge all key stakeholders including private sector, government, labour, and civil society to collaborate to position to our country to take advantage of opportunities that the BRICS expansion will bring to our country.
Ntombela is the Acting CEO of Brand South Africa AMA
The licensing of digital credit providers by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has opened the floodgates of new funding to the non-deposit taking entities.
CBK’s greenlight to 12 additional digital lenders at the end of January has, for instance, enabled Mycredit Limited to tap Sh325 million from Oiko Credit in a deal announced on February 1 with the proceeds expected to spur the lender’s medium-term lending programme to small and medium enterprises.
“The funding from Oiko allows us to start giving medium-term loans to at least 1,000 SMEs in the next financial year,” said MyCredit Limited Managing Director Wangaruro Mbira.
Sources have intimated to the Business Daily that more funding is expected to stream to the recently licensed digital credit providers with M-Kopa Loan Kenya Limited for instance expected to tap up to Sh12.5 billion ($100 million) according to a person close to the transaction.
The fintech platform, which provides connected financing and digital financial services to unbanked customers has been among the top recipients of funding from partners and investors in the recent past.
M-Kopa Loan Kenya sealed a Sh9.4 billion ($75 million) equity round in March last year with the injection bringing M-Kopa’s total equity funding to Sh23.8 billion ($190 million) to support the fintech’s expansion including adding to its hubs in Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
On January 30, the CBK issued 12 additional licensing to digital lenders including Inventure Mobile Limited (Tala), Jumo Kenya Limited, Letshego Kenya Limited, MFS Technologies Limited, Natal Tech Company Limited, Ngao Credit Limited, Pezesha Africa Limited, Tenekata Enterprises Limited, Umoja Fanisi Limited and Zanifu Limited.
This brought the number of licensed entities in the space to 22, after the grant of licenses to 10 players in September last year including Ceres Tech Limited, Getcash Capital Limited (Flash Credit Africa), Jijenge Credit Limited, Kweli Smart Solutions Limited, Mwanzo Credit Limited, MyWagepay Limited, Rewot Ciro Limited, Sevi Innovation Limited and SokoHela Limited.
The recent grant of permits to digital credit providers has served to dissipate fears among players especially existing entities who missed out entirely from the list of initial licensees which largely featured new players in the industry.
The lengthy delay to secondary approvals had caused jitters to the players who lamented struggles in obtaining fresh funds to investors who were demanding CBK certification before disbursing money.
The jitters led to digital lending executives fearing a potential cash-crunch even as their platforms were blacklisted to platforms such as the Google Playstore.
Delays in the issuance of digital credit providers licensing was largely attributed to the wide range of documentation required by the CBK including a list of directors and funding sources.
CBK’s engagement with other regulators and agencies such as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is also attributable to the lengthy licensing process.
“The focus of the engagements has been inter alia on business models, consumer protection and fitness and propriety of proposed shareholders, directors and managers. This is to ensure adherence to relevant laws and importantly that the interests of customers are safeguarded. We acknowledge the efforts of the applicants and support of other regulators and agencies in this process,” the CBK stated.
“Other applicants are at different stages in the process, largely awaiting the submission of requisite documentation.”
Concerns including exorbitant credit costs, unethical debt collection practices, and abuse of personal information served to push digital credit providers to the ambits of the banking sector regulator. By By KEPHA MUIRURI, Business Daily
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