By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a specialized technical institution of the African Union (AU) that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.
During the outbreak of the coronavirus, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) was established by African Union, as a component in support of the Africa Vaccine Strategy and was endorsed by the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government on 20th of August 2020.
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has emphasized: “Africa has to team up with development partners to achieve its 60% continent-wide vaccination in the next two years. I think that is why we should as a collective of the continent, and of course, in partnership with the developed world make sure that Africa has timely access to vaccines to meet our vaccination targets.”
In an official media release in February 2021, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team from the African Union (AU) informed that Russia would supply and deliver 300 million Sputnik vaccines to Africa. That step was intended to support African countries to attain their targeted immunization of 60% of the population by the year-end. That vaccine story disappeared, but instead what becomes so common is the speedy registration of Sputnik V on a bilateral basis in various African countries.
According to the latest, Nigeria has become the 68th country in the world to approve the Russian vaccine. The use of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine has been approved in Nigeria, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in an official statement.
“The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund) announces the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria (NAFDAC). Nigeria has become the 68th country in the world to approve the Russian vaccine. The total population of all countries, where Sputnik V is approved for use, now exceeds 3.7 billion people, which is nearly half of the global population,” the statement said.
“Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, and the approval of Sputnik V will provide for using one of the safest and most effective vaccines in the world. Sputnik V is based on a proven human adenoviral vectors platform and is successfully used in over 50 countries. Approval in Nigeria will make an important contribution to the country’s fight against the pandemic,” the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said.
Besides Nigeria, other African countries have registered Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Reportedly, the vaccine has been registered in Algeria, Angola, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Tunisia, the Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe.
Russia’s drive to share the Sputnik V vaccine, of course, offers a chance to raise its image and strengthen alliances in Africa. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has made efforts to promote the vaccine using all its channels. But supply and delivery have largely lagged behind, the pledges have simply not been fulfilled. Russian authorities have oftentimes said that they would step up efforts for fruitful cooperation in combating coronavirus in Africa.
Promising more than can be delivered appears to be a universal problem with coronavirus vaccines, and it is a real risk for Russia as well, said Theresa Fallon, Director of the Brussels-based Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies. “They have won the gold medal for creating this very effective vaccine,” she said. “But the problem is how are they going to implement production and delivery?”
Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), with profit motivation, has attempted supplying the Russian vaccines through, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, from the Monarch family and a third party in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to a number of African countries. For instance, the Republic of Ghana reportedly signed a $64.6 million contract for the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia through Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum. It was double the price from the producer as reported in the media.
On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted, in a speech in early September, that advanced countries that produce vaccines against the coronavirus do little to protect humanity from the pandemic.
“The benefits of vaccination are enjoyed mostly by advanced economies. The bulk of the vaccines is made there, and it is used to protect their own population. But very little is being done to protect humanity in the broad sense,” Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the Far East of Russia. “This is very bad for the producers because of all these boomerangs around the globe. For instance, in Africa the level of protection with vaccines is minimal, but contacts with the African countries continue. There is no getting away from this. This infection will return again and again.”
According to an official release obtained late February, the Sputnik V vaccine has the following advantages:
- Efficacy of Sputnik V is 91.6% as confirmed by the data published in the Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals; It is one of only three vaccines in the world with an efficacy of over 90%; Sputnik V provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19.
- The Sputnik V vaccine is based on a proven and well-studied platform of human adenoviral vectors, which cause the common cold and have been around for thousands of years.
- Sputnik V uses two different vectors for the two shots in a course of vaccination, providing immunity with a longer duration than vaccines using the same delivery mechanism for both shots.
- The safety, efficacy and lack of negative long-term effects of adenoviral vaccines have been proven by more than 250 clinical studies over two decades.
- The developers of the Sputnik V vaccine are working collaboratively with AstraZeneca on a joint clinical trial to improve the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- There are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V.
- The price of Sputnik V is less than $10 per shot, making it affordable around the world.
In February, a peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet published an analysis from a Phase III clinical trial of the Russian vaccine, showing its 91.6-per cent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The Sputnik V vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
Sputnik V was registered in Russia on August 11, 2020, as the world’s first officially registered coronavirus vaccine. Russian vaccines have advantages as no deaths have been reported after vaccination with the Sputnik V, Alexander Gintsburg, Director of the Gamaleya Center, the vaccine developer, said and was reported by TASS News Agency. “As of today, no deaths after vaccination with Sputnik V have been registered,” he said.
Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is Russia’s sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. RDIF acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy. RDIF’s management is based in Moscow.
In Africa, during the first of September, the coronavirus-related death toll has topped 196,190, while more than 6.9 million recoveries have been reported. South Africa accounts for a majority of coronavirus cases and deaths across Africa – 2,777,659 and 82,261 respectively. The death toll in Tunisia climbed to 23,451, and 664,034 cases have been confirmed. Egypt recorded 16,736 deaths and 288,441 coronavirus cases.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia is ranked second to South Africa (308,134 cases and 4,675 deaths) and is followed by Kenya (235,863 cases and 4,726 deaths) and Nigeria (191,805 and 2,455). The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached almost 8 million in Africa, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa.
OPEC to Launch 2021 Annual Statistical Bulletin on September 30
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will launch the 2021 edition of its Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB) on Thursday, September 30 2021.
The bulletin will be unveiled at 14:00 (CEST) – 1 p.m. Nigerian time via videoconference.
OPEC Secretary-General, Mr Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, will present the publication’s major highlights, as well as the new additions and improvements integrated into this year’s version of the ASB.
The event will also feature a round table session with the Secretariat’s key analysts and researchers involved in the ASB, in addition to showing a highlight video.
First published in 1965, the ASB, which is one of OPEC’s flagship publications, continues to provide a wide range of data on the global energy industry, as well as key economic indicators, serving as an important source of reliable data for policy-makers, analysts and researchers, academics and other industry stakeholders.
It features data focused on production, supply and demand, imports and exports, and exploration and transportation activities, including important statistics covering OPEC’s 13 member countries – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, Algeria, Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Libya, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates.
The Secretary-General stated: “I am very pleased to announce the launch event of the 56th edition of OPEC’s Annual Statistical Bulletin, which has become a key reference source for stakeholders across the industry.
“For over 61 years, OPEC has placed a high priority on providing accurate, timely and transparent data, and the ASB has been a key tool in helping us achieve this.”
“Despite the various restrictions and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the OPEC Secretariat team has prevailed in producing a publication that will be extremely effective in meeting the industry’s growing need for reliable information,” he added.
This year’s ASB will be available as an interactive version and a PDF on the OPEC website, as well as through a smart app compatible with iOS and Android platforms. Further details in this regard will be available following the launch.
Business Leaders, Investors Gear up for Nordic-African Business Summit
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
All is not set for the 10th Nordic-African Business Summit taking place in four cities; Harare, Lagos, Nairobi and Oslo at the same time, on Thursday, September 30, 2021.
Over 300 business leaders and investors are expected to grace the occasion organised to discuss opportunities and collaboration in the new business landscape.
The Nordic-African Business Summit 2021 is a live experience where the four cities are connected through live plenary and parallel sessions.
This year’s Summit will also feature a new edition of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) Great Debate, this year discussing the continent’s energy transition and climate.
Since the first summit in 2011, more than 300 speakers, and more than 3,000 delegates have made the conference the place to meet for African and Nordic businesspeople.
In Harare, an investment firm and NABA-member Spear Capital, as well as Sweden’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, will co-host the regional Summit edition.
By inviting companies to gather in Lagos, Nairobi, Harare and Oslo, the organisers want this year’s event to continue to connect business people across borders when discussing Reimagining business in Africa.
“How has the pandemic changed the business landscape? We know that some economies have been more affected than others, but also noticed that some sectors have been strengthened.
“What are the new opportunities arising, and how can we continue connecting and strengthening Nordic and African business communities?” asks Eivind Fjeldstad, the CEO of the Norwegian-African Business Association (NABA).
“We think businesspeople are tired of screen time and would prefer to meet – and that is why we want to convene in Lagos, Nairobi, Harare and Oslo at the same time on the 30th of September,” Fjeldstad further said.
“With 2021 marking the 10th event of the Nordic-African Business Summit, the theme of the event is Reimaging Business in Africa, because that is exactly what we have tried to achieve for the last 10 years.
“Nordic investors and companies in particular need to update their knowledge on investment opportunities in Africa – and the Summit creates the platform to do so,” the CEO added.
The Nordic-African Business Summit is the Nordic region’s leading business conference focusing exclusively on African markets. The programme is co-hosted by NABA and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
With a focus on promoting business opportunities on the African continent, NABA seeks to increase knowledge about emerging markets on the African continent among business people in the Norwegian private sector, as well as among policymakers in the region.
Why Africa Might Define the Future of the Crypto Market
While many prominent experts call the African continent one of the most promising for the future of the cryptomarket, the numbers so far are not convincing. But what makes it so interesting and how do people in Africa actually use cryptocurrencies in 2021?
What makes Africa such a promising market
The report “The Stare of Crypto Africa” calls the region “one of, if not the most promising region for the adoption of cryptocurrencies”. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, tweets that “Africa will define the future” of the whole crypto industry.
At the same time, Africa is still the smallest economy by the total value of transactions in the world: with over 1.2 billion population it accounts only for 2% of the global value transacted in cryptocurrencies. So how does being the smallest economy in transactional volume in crypto blend with being one of the most promising regions?
The first answers can be derived from a recent Chainalysis report that states that only in one year, from July 2020 to June 2021, the African crypto-economy had grown over 1200%. Moreover, some countries in the region like Kenya or Nigeria are among the top 20 of the Global Adoption Index.
As researchers from Arcane put it, the African market’s success сan be attributed to “the unique combination of economic and demographic trends”. One of the drivers of its uniqueness is the fact that, according to different estimates, 57% to 66% of the population has no such thing as a simple bank account.
The situation forces people to look for alternatives and that is why such countries as Kenya and Nigeria are among the countries with the highest adoption rate of cryptocurrencies. In the end, due to the lack of the infrastructure affordable for the majority of citizens, people adapted and now they “have no problems with mastering new technologies”, as Sergey Ordin, marketing director of the international crypto community Roy Club with representative offices in Africa, puts it.
He also shared that “remarkably high interest towards innovative financial opportunities with low entry levels” shows in the Roy Club members statistics: however the offices in Africa opened their doors in 2021, the number of its participants is already 15% of all members at a global level (approximately 100 000 out of 700 000)
Use cases: From cutting transactional costs to financial independents
With most of the population unbanked and the fact that cross-border payments in Africa cost on average more than at any other main continent (per the World Bank, up to 8.9% per transaction while the global average is 6.8), there is no surprise that remittance payments became the most popular use case for cryptocurrencies.
Remittance payments volume has been steadily growing for the last couple of years. Per Chainalysis, it has grown 10 times from April 2019 to April 2021, for example. Also, with time, not only individuals but businesses started to use cryptocurrencies for doing international business in some areas. Artur Schaback, the confounder of the popular in Africa P2P exchange Paxful illustrated this point with an example:
“If you’re working with a partner in China to import goods to sell in Nigeria or Kenya, it can be hard to send enough fiat currency to China to complete your purchases. It’s often easier to just buy Bitcoin locally on a P2P exchange and then send it to your partner”
The situation drastically changed in the middle of 2020 when stay-home policies and other restrictions became a catalyst for exploring other use cases for cryptocurrencies. There is no surprise that when the pandemic worsened the situation with national currencies that had high devaluation rates even before 2020 people started to preserve their savings by using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For example, in Nigeria, Chainalysis shows the correlation between the peaks of the devaluation of Naira, the local currency, and trading volumes on P2P platforms with this currency.
Also, 2020 inevitably worsened the situation with employment. Young people who are in general more well-versed in new technologies in a moment with growing unemployment and uncertainty opted to use cryptocurrencies as a source of income. Buchi Okoro, the CEO of the African crypto exchange Quidax, shared that a high proportion of the users of the exchange use cryptocurrencies “to earn a living”. And indeed, those who invested in bitcoin, for example, in March 2020 at a price of $6500 definitely succeeded making 900% profits by March 2021 when the bitcoin price was already $60000.
Now, when the bitcoin price growth is slowing down, another way to earn a living becomes more and more popular in Africa – staking. Staking is in many ways similar to mining since it involves users in performing such network functions as block validation with two main exceptions: it does not require expensive equipment and there is no need to acquire special skills. Staking is the mechanism of getting profit from owning cryptocurrencies that work on the Proof-of-Work algorithms and putting them on hold for some time.
Since P2P platforms are also very popular in Africa, the idea of sharing with the community is no stranger there. That is probably why staking pools became so popular. They work in the following way: members of the community pool their resources together to increase their chances for a good profit. For example, at Roy Club, according to Ordin, staking pools bring their members from 5% (for pools with 50,000 UMI) to 40% (for pools with over 1 billion UMI) monthly.
Moreover, the people’s readiness to adopt new technologies is coupled with their readiness to learn. Sergey Odin specifically highlighted the significant local interest in educational products like Roy School and Roy Academy that offer courses for both novices and advanced users free of charge.
To conclude, while the transactional volume is still tiny compared with other economies, the African continent has all chances to define the future of the crypto market with current growth rates and the readiness of its population to learn and adopt new technologies. While people immediately noticed that cryptocurrencies are useful for cutting costs of remittance payments, with time they also started to see a chance for financial independence and additional income in more complex products, like staking.
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