U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded $2.6 million to nine energy companies to electrify 288 rural health facilities which currently have no reliable access to power.
The grant was awarded through Power Africa, on Tuesday.
Power Africa is a U.S Government-led initiative that brings together 12 government agencies, development partners and private sector companies, with the goal of doubling access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The grant, totalling $2.6m, was launched in a virtual event which highlighted the importance of healthcare electrification for COVID-19 response and recovery.
The awardees include Havenhill Synergy Ltd (Nigeria), KYA-Energy Group (Togo), Zuwa Energy (Malawi), OffGridBox (Rwanda) Nanoé (Madagascar) as well as PEG, Solarworks, Power and Muhanya Solar Limited for other parts of Africa.
Mark Carrato, Acting Coordinator, Power Africa, said that USAID was doing everything possible to help keep the sector afloat because “these are challenging times for companies operating in emerging markets.”
According to him, when it comes to universal energy access and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal seven, the world can’t afford to go backwards.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Power Africa has successfully worked with local industry associations to compel governments to declare off grid energy as an essential service.
“Despite the economic downturn in the last quarter, we managed to raise $65 million for the energy sector in forms of grants, loans and equity, providing much needed liquidity for a range of companies.
“We know that as a result of the economic downturn, brought by COVID-19, many energy access companies are struggling right now.
“We’re working with a group of investors and development partners so that more companies can receive low interest concessional loans in order to maintain staff and service existing customers.
“We are also helping African governments put in place the legal and regulatory frameworks needed to attract off-grid energy and base investments,”Carrato said.
Chris Milligan, Counselor to USAID, said that the agency was highlighting its mode of operation through partnerships with governments and the private sector that empower communities to solve their own challenges.
According to him, the agency values its partnership with African governments which improve the well being of millions on the continent.
“As Americans, we stand together not only with the people in Africa, but with countless others across the globe to help countries and their people address their development challenges. We know the impact of COVID-19 goes far beyond just the health impacts, but also on the social and economic well being of many vulnerable households. Without reliable and affordable electricity, it is even more difficult for these communities to recover from the wide ranging impacts of COVID-19. Functioning healthcare facilities are essential, not only for individuals health, but also for their economic and overall wellbeing,”he said.
The counselor said that without electricity, health systems struggle to meet the needs of their communities, no matter the dedication of healthcare workers.
“Healthcare facilities need electricity for almost all of their activities as we already know and because most of them are in rural areas, it is important to harness the cutting edge and sustainable off grid solutions that the private sector can bring.
“We cannot solve the problems by working alone and that’s why we’ve awarded grants to demonstrate what we can accomplish when the public and private sectors join forces and find new solutions to this challenge. Because of these partnerships, doctors and nurses will have access to better equipment, procedures and surgeries will be safer, and people will live longer, more productive and healthier lives,”he said.
The beneficiary firms have on their parts, highlighted the importance of health care electrification and summarized the activities their companies would undertake.
Air Tanzania Resumes Scheduled Flights To Harare
Air Tanzania resumed scheduled flights to Harare on Wednesday after a seven-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline joins a host of other regional and international airlines that have resumed flights into Zimbabwe after the country reopened its skies at in October.
Some of the airlines that have resumed flights into the southern African country include Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, South African Airlink and Fastjet.
“The flights resume today on Oct. 27 2020 and will be served initially twice weekly on Tuesday and Friday.
“Air Tanzania will operate the route via Lusaka, Zambia using a Dash8-Q400 aircraft,’’ the airline said in a statement Tuesday.
An official at the airline said as with the new normal, the flights would be operated under new COVID-19 health regulations.
“We are thrilled to be resuming the Lusaka-Harare flights. This South bound route connects both Lusaka and Harare business people, tourists and academics to the port city of Dar-es-Salaam and beyond,” the official said.
BREAKING: Okonjo-Iweala Emerges WTO Director-General
Former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been named the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization, WTO.
She defeated the trade minister from South Korea by polling 104 votes from 164 member countries.
This makes her the first African to occupy the position of DG WTO.
Nigeria To Construct 10 New Airports
Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday, told federal lawmakers the West African country has concluded plans to build 10 new airports.
The minister revealed this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation for the 2021 budget defence by the ministry and its agencies.
Sirika said that the civil aviation had witnessed growth saying that the number of airports in the country had increased.
“There are airports coming up in Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Lafia, Damaturu, Anambra and so forth. All of these show that civil aviation is growing during this administration,” he said.
Sirika said both the executive arm of government and the National Assembly had done justice to the civil aviation sector since 2015 when the current administration came on board through the development of a roadmap, which was being implemented.
“So, we have about 10 new airports coming up; that is almost half the number of airports we used to have in Nigeria. We are adding 50 per cent of the number of airports,” Sirika said.
He also noted that Kebbi, Osubi, Dutse, Jigawa airports were taken over by the Federal Government while the Gombe State Government had also written the federal authorities, asking it to take over the Gombe Airport.
Meanwhile, Sirika told newsmen after the budget defence that the national carrier, Nigeria Air, was part of the Aviation sector roadmap, which would be delivered before 2023.
“We are on it. The transaction adviser has brought in the outline business case. It is being reviewed by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
“Soon after it completion, it will go to the Federal Executive Council fir approved. We will not leave this government without having it in place,” Sirika said.
On the need to site another airport in Lokoja, Kogi, as alternate to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Sirika said, “Lokoja is an important Northern town.
“Lokoja is a cosmopolitan town, it’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in growth and development of our country.
“We have a lot of agricultural activities around there. There is fishery, there is perishable item production and so on.
“So sitting an airport there is quite apt. For me, it is something we should have done long ago for its importance,” Sirika said.
On the issues of dilapidated equipment at some airports across the country, Sirika said it was a work in progress as the airports were being attended to one after the other based on priority.
“We don’t have the resources to take them all at once. We are attending to them according to their needs in terms of safety and security.
“Certainly we are making Ilorin one of the best airports because in the first place it is an alternate for Lagos,” Sirika said.
Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Smart Adeyemi, said that observations were made by the committee on how to assist the aviation industry.
“This is more importantly as the world grappled with global recession, aviation becomes a very important sector that requires the attention of any progressive government.
“I am happy to see that there is an improvement in what is being proposed for 2021 compared with the outgoing year.
“Aviation is important because when the economy is down for a developing nation as ours, it makes sense to focus on aviation in order to be able to accelerate socio-economic activities.
“Aviation must be given serious attention and I am happy this government has responded to that,” Adeyemi said.
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