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Technology is fundamental to Africa’s economic recovery post-COVID-19

By Chen Lei, President of Huawei Southern Africa Region.

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With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of this year, organisations across the planet began to shift into action. But as critical as it was to react appropriately, it has also been important to proactively prepare for the next phase.

At Huawei, we are aware of the massive effect of the pandemic, as well as how seriously communities would be affected. However, we are also conscious that as well as protecting lives, we need to help lay the foundation for the next stage of society’s technological advancement – the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I’ve been inspired by a recent YouTube video of young South African dancer Hlumelo, who has been under lockdown in his home township of Gugulethu. A member of the Zama Dance School, Hlumelo has not let the lockdown hold him back, and has continued practising his steps for the moment when he and his friends can perform together again.

Similarly, during the Chinese lockdown, members of the Shanghai ballet continued to practise – wearing facemasks – for their upcoming performance of Swan Lake. They took precautions, but remained focused on the next phase of their development.

Chen Lei – President, Huawei Southern Africa Region

This reminds me of a saying from a Chinese poem that “Good honing gives a sharp edge to a sword. Bitter cold adds keen fragrance to plum blossom.” It implies that preparation is essential to being effective, and that hardship can shape ultimate success. Indeed, chance favours the prepared mind.

We understand that ICT has a great role to play in terms of keeping us all connected during lockdown, quarantine and social isolation. But technology is also fundamental to economic recovery for Africa.

Now that we have spent several weeks with shuttered schools and locked-down businesses, our conversation is turning to how to reopen the economy. It is becoming increasingly clear that the way to do that is not to rush back to the same busy, concentrated work and social environments we had before.

When we reopen, communities and workplaces will have to continue practising social distancing. We will continue to rely on high-speed connectivity to bind us together. In many cases, ICT networks support the fight against COVID-19, but also the evolution of human society itself.

During the pandemic, once Huawei had secured our people and our operations, we looked at how we could support our business partners on the African continent through our core competences in the ICT sector. We were fortunate to be able to assist African organisations with social distancing through our technologies.  

The video conferencing systems we provided in some African countries enabled information sharing domestically and experience exchange internationally between epidemic prevention experts in China and Africa. 

Our remote video conferencing systems have helped medical institutions communicate more efficiently. We have also implemented an AI-based diagnosis solution in several medical institutions. CT scan reviews can now be completed in two minutes, 80% faster, in a race with time, critical for saving lives.

Huawei will continue using our core information and communication capabilities to support Africa’s epidemic control efforts. 

When the dust settles, and we begin to arrive at the much-heralded “new normal”, we will have seen the immense potential for ICT to build social cohesion.

A new business model is taking shape across sectors, one characterised by remote work, distance education, remote healthcare, online shopping and mobile money. These business models span transportation, security, finance, medicine, education and entertainment.

This new paradigm is driven by vastly greater data consumption, facilitated by the mass connectivity of 4G/5G technology.

Governments are coming to understand the need to prioritise ICT as a necessity. As a recent White paper by Deloitte-Shanghai noted, the COVID-19 pandemic is seeing 5G transform healthcare response mechanisms to become digital, accurate and smart.

The pandemic has brought home to policymakers the importance of ICT in national development. This should accelerate the establishment of national data centres, optical fibre networks and communication base stations. 

This kind of “big network” deployment also presents a historic opportunity for Africa to use ICT to catch up with, and overtake other nations in terms of human development and quality of life for all its citizens.

We are seeing the first signs of digital transformation not just in healthcare systems, but across entire economies, and society itself. 

ICT platforms are likely to provide the foundation of Africa’s future economy. The key is to continue honing and perfecting them, expanding their use even now, so that once the lockdown ends, we can recover more quickly. 

As the old poem notes, good honing does indeed give a sharp edge to a sword. Like Hlumelo and the dancers of the Shanghai ballet, we should spend this time honing our abilities. When dawn arrives – as it surely will –  let it find us well prepared to seize the day.

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Gambians Decry Price Hike in Basic Commodities

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Low-income earning Gambians have expressed concerns, frustration and dissatisfaction over the daily surge in prices of basic food commodities in the markets.

The west African country has witnessed incessant spike in the prices of basic food commodities in recent months.
A situation that has been a cause for alarm among traders, retailers and consumers.

Many have expressed dissatisfaction and uncertainty regarding daily survival for themselves and their dependants.

Market survey in the West Coast Region shows that the cost of fish has gone up 30%, sugar which sold for D1250 in 2020 now costs D1350, imported rice now costs D1250 as against D1075 which it sold for in December.

Amid increasing political fragmentation, the hope inspired by President Adama has since faded.

Barrow who has promised far reaching economic stimulus lifted in September, the state of emergency which may ease gradual economic recovery.

Vendors and traders are unable to sell their wares due to hike in prices of commodities and dwindling purchasing power. Many customers are left with lesser options due to the prices charged.

Gambia’s inflation rate stands at 6.04%, a slight drop from 6.15% in 2020.

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Rwanda to Upgrade Covid-19 Testing to Detect Variants

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, Rwanda has decided to increase the number of tests done daily.

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Rwanda is planning an upgrade of its testing capacity to enable the country to trace the new COVID-19 variants in the country. 

The Covid-19 variants which were first identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom are believed to be more transmissible than the original Covid-19 virus, raising concern that the new strains may be more deadly. 

On national television, Rwanda’s Minister of Health Daniel Ngamije said: “We haven’t yet tested and identified a Covid-19 variant…we are still working on this capability, and soon, we will be having it in place.”

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, the country decided to increase the number of tests done daily.

On Saturday, Rwanda resumed mass testing of residents, running a three-day exercise.

On Monday, 336 new positive cases out of the 7,867 tests done were reported in the country, bringing the total number of infections to 12,975. Three deaths and 261 recoveries were also recorded in the country on the same day, bringing total recoveries to 8,420 recoveries and death toll to 174. As of Monday, active positive cases stood at 4,453.

Vulnerable groups, including the elderly, were among those tergetted in the mass testing.

The country’s Ministry of Health set a target of 20,000 people on a cell and village level in the capital Kigali.

The aim of the mass testing is to determining how many infections are in Kigali and linking patients to their residential areas for better management.

“On the first day, among 4,500 tests taken, 200 of them were positive and above 70 years of age. We are confident that once we know who is infected and where they are, treatment will be more effective,” Dr Ngamije said.

Rwandan last week re-instated a 15 days lockdown in Kigali following a spike in Covid-19 infections and deaths. Movement remains restricted nationwide.

Recently, the country imported 18,000 doses of the oral drug -Favipiravir which was used to treat influenza in Japan in 2014, that has now been approved for Covid-19 treatment by some countries.

Seven deaths were recorded in Rwanda on Saturday, the highest mortality rate so far in a day though the government is now optimistic that the new treatment will curb deaths.

Rwanda is also expecting the first one million doses of Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccine after acquiring the required refrigeration units. At least 500,000 people are expected to be the first beneficiaries. Frontline workers, the elderly, and those with underlying conditions are to be among these beneficiaries.

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What You Need to Know About “Omo Ghetto, the Saga”

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“Omo Ghetto” ( The Saga), a movie by Actress Funke Akindele-Bello, a.k.a “Jenifa” has proven to be Nollywood’s highest-grossing movie of all time.

Reports have it that the 2020 comedy film has broken Kemi Adetiba’s ‘The Wedding Party’ four year record of being the highest grossed Nigerian movie.

In a statement released by Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), the 2020 comedy film has so far grossed N468,036,300 after holding the number one spot for its third week in a row.

“Omo Ghetto’ has officially broken a four year record by knocking off Kemi Adetiba’s 2016 Comedy movie” The Wedding Party”

The movie had been Nollywood Highest Grossing Movie with N453,000,000, in third place and ‘The Wedding Party 2 with N433,197,377,” the statement said.

Jenifa’s latest feat is probably the most shocking news in recent times, and this is because, the movie was released amidst a pandemic that crippled the film industry for months, and film makers were not making sales like they should.

The comedy movie, released on Christmas day 2020, is a sequel to 2010 trilogy ‘Omo Ghetto’, and follows the chaotic life of Shalewa aka Lefty (Funke Akindele)

Lefty (Funke Akindele) struggled between living a life of wealth and comfort provided by her adopted mother and returning to her ghetto lifestyle.

The comedy stars Funke Akindele in the dual role of Ayomide and Lefty, Chioma Akpotha (as Chummy Choko), Eniola Badmus (as Busty), Bimbo Thomas (as Nikky), Akah Nnani (as Mario), Alex Ekubo (Obi Wire), Zubby Michael (as Aza Man), Deyemi Okanlawon (as Stone), Timini Egbuson, Nancy Isime, Paschaline Alex, Mercy Aigbe, Yemi Alade among others.

The original film, “Omo Ghetto”, starred Rachel Oniga, Taiwo Hassan, Yinka Quadri, Eniola Badmus, Ronke Ojo and some others.



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