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Algerian foreign minister visits Khartoum after Addis Ababa


AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Monique Nsanzabaganwa poses with Algerian FM Ramabdan Lamamra on 30 July 20210 (APS photo)
July 30, 2021 (KHARTOUM) – KHARTOUM, July 30, 2021 – The Algerian Foreign Minister, Ramadan Lamamra, arrived in Khartoum on Friday to discuss regional issues and bilateral relations.

During his two-day visit to Khartoum Lamamra will meet the head of the Sovereign Council and Prie Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

In a tweet posted after his arrival to Khartoum, the Algerian top diplomat did not develop on the purpose of his visit. He only said he looks towards meeting with senior Sudanese officials.

He arrived from Addi Ababa where he met with President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen.

Mekonnen said he discussed with Lamamra the GERD crisis and the border dispute with Sudan.

He requested “the Algerian Foreign Minister to help to correct the Arab League’s position on the GERD, referring to the support of the Arab body to Egypt and Sudans.

On the border dispute, he asked to bring Sudan to negotiate with Ethiopia on the ownership of the Al-Fashaga border area.

Sudan refuses to negotiate with Ethiopia as the two countries signed two agreements on the border demarcation.

Algeria mediated a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea over the border area of Badme.

From 2008 to 2013, Lamamra was the commissioner of the African Union Peace and Security Council.

(ST)

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Xinhua world news summary at 1530 GMT, July 30

MOSCOW — The International Space Station (ISS) is functioning well after Russia’s Nauka module accidentally restarted its engines after docking with the ISS on Thursday, Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos said Friday.

Due to a short-term software failure, a direct command was mistakenly executed and thereafter reactivated the module’s engines, and changed the ISS’s orientation, Roscosmos said in a statement. (Russia-ISS-Accident)

—-

JERUSALEM — The Israeli-owned shipping company Zodiac Maritime announced on Friday that two crew members on board a Japanese ship operated by the company were killed in an incident on Thursday.

A company statement said the dead were a Romanian and British national. According to media reports, the ship was attacked off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. (Israel-Maritime Incident-Killed Crews)

—-

ADDIS ABABA — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 6,635,522 as of Friday afternoon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stands at 168,478 while 5,813,540 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease. (Africa CDC-COVID-19-Caseload)

—-

LONDON — The active travel boom seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to thrive thanks to a 338-million-pound (about 472.2-million-U.S.-dollar) package to boost cycling and walking across Britain, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced Friday.

This funding will help see the construction of hundreds of miles of new high-quality cycle lanes and aid the delivery of new schemes to encourage walking, according to the British Department for Transport (DfT). (UK- Cycling-Travel Boom)

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AU deploys election observers led by ex- Sierra Leon President

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The African Union-AU- has deployed an African Union Short -Term Election Observer Mission to Zambia.

Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Emmanuel Mwamba confirmed the development.

Mwamba says African Union Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat said the Observer Mission that will be led by Former Sierra Leon President, Ernest Bai Koroma will be in Zambia from August 4th to 19th 2021.

He says the AU observe mission will interact with various stakeholders that include, government officials, the ECZ, political parties, civil society, media organization and the diplomatic community.

Mwamba says the engagement with various stakeholders will enable the delegation to understand and appreciate the preparations made so far towards the holding of the election.

The AU Short Term Election Observer Mission to Zambia draws its mandate from the 2007 African Charter for democracy that Zambia is signatory to.

This is according to a statement issued to ZNBC News by Zambia’s First Secretary- Press/Tourism Inutu Mwanza.

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West African health officials race to vaccinate amid spikes

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A resurgence of coronavirus cases in West Africa is hitting the region hard, inundating cemeteries where funeral numbers are rising and hospitals where beds are becoming scarce.

Those visible shifts are also pushing a reluctant population to seek out the vaccines in larger numbers at a time when shipments of doses are arriving from multiple sources after nearly grinding to a halt in recent months.

Thousands of new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the region in the past few weeks amid low vaccination rates and the spread of the delta variant, with some countries seeing their highest numbers since the pandemic began.

Residents who were previously wary of getting shots as conspiracy theories spread online are now lining up by the thousands from Liberia to Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“At the beginning, there were people who gave false information, but when people noticed an increase of contaminations and deaths, people understood that only vaccination can save them,” said Bamba Fall, mayor of the Medina municipality in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.

Shortages and delays have caused Africa’s 54 countries to fall far behind wealthier nations in their COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. Some 82 million doses have arrived on the continent to date, though that is just 10% of the number needed to vaccinate 30% of its population by the end of 2021, said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa.

But more shipments are finally rolling in, steering the continent of 1.3 billion people into an “encouraging phase after a bleak June,” Moeti said. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel on vaccine deliveries to Africa, but it must not be snuffed out again.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 210 million people, next month will receive more than 29 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines purchased by the government through the African Union. It’s also expecting 4 million doses of Moderna and almost 700,000 AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX program and from donations by the United States and the United Kingdom, according to Health Minister Osagie Ehanire.

Nigeria’s virus cumulative case count recently topped 172,200, an increase of more than 4,500 cases since July 10. Its seven-day rolling average of daily new cases more than doubled over the past two weeks, from 0.06 new cases per 100,000 people on July 15 to 0.17 new cases per 100,000 people on July 29, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Isolation centers that were closed after a previous surge are being reopened in anticipation of a large number of patients, said Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control.

Meanwhile, confirmed cases in Senegal, which had been ahead in the fight against the virus, leapt from only 380 on July 10 to 1,700 on July 18, the highest number since the pandemic began, according to the Ministry of Health.

Dakar’s main cemetery also is seeing large numbers of funerals, many that were likely due to COVID-19 but weren’t recorded as such.

“I came for an uncle’s funeral. He died at home. Out of modesty, he did not take the tests, but everything suggests that he died of COVID-19, because he had symptoms of the disease,” said Saliou Ndoye. “This situation is worrying. There are a lot of deaths.”

Senegal is employing more community-focused campaigns as residents see people close to them — including those young and healthy — succumbing to the disease.

“Senegalese don’t know where to turn,” resident Khalifa Abbacar Diop said. “We are afraid.”

The country received nearly 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses and more than 330,000 of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the past week. Tens of thousands of residents are waiting for a second dose of AstraZeneca, but it is out of stock and new deliveries are not expected until August.

An increase in hospitalizations and deaths is leading many residents across West Africa to get inoculated.

“Initially, I was hesitant to take the vaccine because I saw many conspiracy theories and also the anti-vaccine media campaign appeared stronger,” Harris Fomba Tarnue, principal of the Booker Washington Institute, Liberia’s oldest technical high school, told The Associated Press.

“But when I reflected a lot on taking vaccines in the ’60s and ’70s, and the (beneficial) impact vaccines now have on global health, I concluded it’s a must for me and my family to take,” Tarnue said.

Liberia received 96,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative, but the first consignment of about 27,000 had only a month lifespan and expired as people were reluctant to get the shots, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Francis Kateh said.

The country received more than 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses on Sunday, about two weeks after it ran out of AstraZeneca with at least 86,000 people awaiting a second dose.

Since its vaccine drive started in March, only 9,579 people in the nation of nearly 5 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the health minister.

In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo raised the alarm Sunday as new confirmed infections tripled, stretching hospitals and ICU wards to their limit.

Ghana “cannot afford to allow the recklessness of a few to endanger the lives of the majority of persons in the country,” he said, announcing masks are now mandatory in public places.

Ghana is committed to vaccinating 20 million people, representing its entire adult population, by the end of this year, he said.

He pledged $25 million to start an institute that would allow Ghana to produce vaccines, and not be dependent upon foreign manufacturers. South Africa is currently the only country in sub-Saharan Africa that has the capacity to manufacture the doses.

___

AP reporters Babacar Dione in Dakar; Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia, Liberia; Francis Kokutse in Accra, Ghana; and Sam Olukoya in Lagos, Nigeria, contributed.

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Dutch Official At Euro-Med’s Webinar: ‘Our Aim In Libya Is Peace. Sanctions Could Work’

The
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor hosted a topical
webinar on transitional justice and impunity in Libya that
brought together a group of international experts from
leading civil society organizations and the public
sector.

The expert panel, titled “Impunity in Libya
and the role of the EU and the UN,” addressed possible war
crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the course
of the ongoing civil war, including mass graves, landmines,
torture and killings, in addition to the responsibility of
warring parties and their regional and international
supporters.

The event, moderated by Euro-Med Monitor’s
Humanitarian Researcher, Michela Pugliese, was concluded
with policy-oriented remarks concerning the United Nations
and European Union’s role towards the conflict, including
the issue of arm sales.

Timothy Reid, former Senior
DDR Advisor for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya
(UNSMIL), listed a number of grave and concerning violations
in the Libyan conflict, saying, “The properties of Libyan
civilians have been seized and used by militants. Different
mercenary groups came to Libya… We [also] have the problem
of interference in courts’ work and tribalism.”

Reid
elaborated that some regional groups such as the UAE and
France have armed and financed Libyan groups and
mercenaries. “One of the areas that does not receive much
attention is the role of regional actors such as France,
Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” he added “Some European
countries are complicit in human trafficking [in Libya] as
they claim they prevent migrants from reaching their
shores.”

“In terms of accountability, members of
the UN Security Council follow their interests, such as
selling weapons,” he concluded.

Elise Flecher, a
Senior Programmes Officer at Lawyers for Justice in Libya,
highlighted that “The human rights consequences of
violating the arms embargo resulted in targeting civilian
infrastructure, such as the bombing of migrant detention
centres, which left 52 migrants dead.” She added that “the
conflict has led to people’s displacement, especially around
Tripoli and conflict-affected areas.”

“The conflict
has impacted human rights defenders, especially women,” she
continued, noting that the EU has an ambiguous approach
towards Libya. “Violating the arms embargo is
well-documented and have had different consequences, and the
EU is one of the most known violators of the arms embargo in
Libya,” she concluded.

Vito Todeschini, a Legal
Adviser at the Middle East and North Africa Programme of the
International Commission of Jurists, pointed out “The FFM
has the mandate to investigate violations related to
international human rights law, which means it could look
into crimes in Libya such as arbitrary detention, torture,
and crimes committed against migrants and IDPs.” He added,
“It has the mandate to look into crimes committed against
humanity.”

He noted that NGOs had created the FFM to
investigate human rights violations by armed groups due to
the lack of accountability. “Still, it is important to
note that its investigation is not
criminal.”

Todeschini suggested that FFM should
contribute to transitional justice by sharing the results of
investigations with other bodies investigating crimes. “It
can provide accountability for human rights violations
committed in Libya. Its documentation and findings can be
used before domestic bodies to get reparations for victims
and to support the work of the African Union and the
ICC.”

“The FFM can play a major role in Libya, both
criminal and non-criminal. But it needs international
support and for its mandate to be renewed for hopefully more
than one year. Funding should be renewed as well,”
Todeschini added.

“Our overall aim is peace in Libya
in the interest of the Netherland and the region as a whole.
To achieve that, there is one path to it, which is a
rights-based and inclusive approach; we support programs on
the ground,” noted Renko Verheij, senior policy officer at
the Middle East and North Africa department of the Dutch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague. “Another key
element in our approach is international sanctions. We
should look at the direct results of sanctions and the role
it plays in signalling to others. It could
work.”

“We are the only country in which human
rights are mentioned in our constitution, and there is a
value to it as well,” he noted. “We should remember that
without a certain degree of justice, there will be no
reconciliation or security,” Verheij
concluded.

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Vaccine Monopolies Make Cost Of Vaccinating The World Against Covid At Least Five Times More Expensive Than It Could Be

The cost of vaccinating the world against COVID-19 could
be at least five times cheaper if pharmaceutical companies
weren’t profiteering from their monopolies on COVID-19
vaccines, campaigners from the People’s Vaccine Alliance
said today.

New analysis by the Alliance shows that
the firms Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are charging
governments as much as USD$41 billion (NZD$58 billion) above
the estimated cost of production. Colombia, for example, has
potentially overpaid by as much as USD$375 million (NZD$539
million) for its doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna
vaccines, in comparison to the estimated cost
price.

Despite a rapid rise in COVID cases and deaths
across the developing world, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna
have sold over 90 per cent of their vaccines so far to rich
countries, charging up to 24 times the potential cost of
production. Last week Pfizer/BioNTech announced it would
licence a South African company to fill and package 100
million doses for use in Africa, but this is a drop in the
ocean of need. Neither company have agreed to fully transfer
vaccine technology and know-how with any capable producers
in developing countries, a move that could increase global
supply, drive down prices and save millions of
lives.

Analysis of production techniques for the
leading mRNA type vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and
Moderna – which were only developed thanks to public
funding to the tune of USD$8.3 billion (NZD$11.9 billion) –
suggest these vaccines could be made for as little as
USD$1.20 (NZD$1.73) a dose. Yet COVAX, the scheme set up to
help countries get access to COVID vaccines, has been
paying, on average, nearly five times more. COVAX has also
struggled to get enough doses and at the speed required,
because of the inadequate supply and the fact that rich
nations have pushed their way to the front of the queue by
willingly paying excessive prices.

Without
pharmaceutical monopolies on vaccines restricting supply and
driving up prices, the Alliance says the money spent by
COVAX to date could have been enough to fully vaccinate
every person in Low and Middle-income countries with
cost-price vaccines, if there was enough supply. Instead at
best COVAX will vaccinate 23 per cent by end of
2021.

The Alliance of nearly 70 organisations,
including the African Alliance, Oxfam and UNAIDS, says the
failure of some rich countries to back the removal of
monopolies and to drive down these excessive prices has
directly contributed to vaccine scarcity in poorer
nations.

Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy
Manager, said: “Pharmaceutical companies are holding the
world to ransom at a time of unprecedented global crisis.
This is perhaps one of the most lethal cases of profiteering
in history.

“Precious budgets that could be used for
building more health facilities in poorer countries are
instead being raided by CEOs and shareholders of these
all-powerful corporations.”

Winnie Byanyima,
Executive Director of UNAIDS said: “Health workers are
dying on the frontline all over the world every single day.
Uganda alone lost more than fifty health workers in just two
weeks. A reminder of the time when millions of people were
dying of HIV in developing countries because the medicines
that could save them were priced too
high.

“I see lives being saved in
vaccinated countries, even as the Delta variant spreads, and
I want the same for developing countries. It is criminal
that the majority of humanity is still facing this cruel
disease unprotected because Pharma monopolies and super
profits are being put first.”

While
some rich countries have started to re-distribute a fraction
of their excess doses and have made funding commitments,
this charity is not enough to fix the global vaccine supply
problems. The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on all
governments to insist that the vaccine technology is
transferred – to enable all qualified manufacturers
worldwide, especially those in developing countries, to
produce these vaccines. Governments should also urgently
approve a waiver of intellectual property rules related to
COVID-19 technologies as proposed by South Africa and
India.

The waiver has been supported by over 100
nations including New Zealand. The US and France has now
entered formal negotiations at the World Trade Organisation
that met again this week. But the proposal has been
repeatedly blocked by Germany, the UK and the European
Union.

Maaza Seyoum, from the African Alliance and
People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa, said: “Enabling
developing country manufacturers to produce vaccines is the
fastest and surest way to ramp up supply and dramatically
drive down prices. When this was done for HIV treatment, we
saw prices drop by up to 99 per cent.

“What possible
reason then do the governments of the UK, Germany and EU
have to ignore the repeated calls from developing countries
to break the vaccine monopolies that could drive up
production while driving down price?”

Less than one
per cent of people in Low Income countries have received a
vaccine, while the profits made by the companies has seen
the CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech become
billionaires.

Before the pandemic, developing
countries paid a median price of USD$0.80 (NZD$1.15) a dose
for all non-COVID vaccines, according to analysis by the
World Health Organization (WHO). While all vaccines are
different and the new vaccines may not be directly
comparable, even one of the cheapest COVID 19 vaccines on
the market, Oxford/AstraZeneca, is nearly four times this
price; the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 13 times; and the
most expensive vaccines, such as Pfizer/ BioNTech, Moderna
and the Chinese produced Sinopharm, are up to 50 times
higher.

It is vital that vaccine manufacturers are
forced to justify why their vaccines cost more, but open
competition is also critical to bring down prices and
increase supply. All vaccines, old and new, only come down
in price once there are multiple competitors in the
market.

Never in history have governments been buying
more doses of vaccines for one disease and the large-scale
production should drive down costs, enabling companies to
charge lower prices. Yet the EU reportedly paid even higher
prices for its second order from Pfizer/BioNTech. Dramatic
price escalation is predicted to continue in the absence of
government action and with the possibility of booster shots
being required for years to come. The CEO of Pfizer has
suggested potential future prices of as much as USD$175
(NZD$251) per dose – 148 times more than the potential cost
of production. And because pharmaceutical companies
anticipate charging such high prices for boosters, they will
continue to sell doses to rich countries at the expense of
protecting lives globally.

In a briefing note,
published today, The People’s Vaccine Alliance highlighted
examples of how much both developing and wealthier nations
have been potentially overpaying:

  • Pfizer/
    BioNTech are charging their lowest reported price of
    USD$6.75 (NZD$9.70) to the African Union but this is still
    nearly 6 times more than the estimated potential production
    cost of this vaccine. One dose of the vaccine costs the same
    as Uganda spends per citizen on health in a whole
    year.
  • The highest reported price paid for
    Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines was paid by Israel at USD$28
    (NZD$40.26) a dose – nearly 24 times the potential
    production cost. Some reports suggest they paid even
    more.
  • The EU may have overpaid for their 1.96
    billion Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines by as much as
    €31 billion (NZD$52.8 billion).
  • Moderna has
    charged countries between 4 and 13 times the potential cost
    price of the vaccine and reportedly offered South Africa a
    price between USD$30-42 (NZD$43-58) a dose – nearly 15 times
    higher than the potential production cost.
  • Colombia,
    which has been badly affected by COVID, has been paying
    double the price paid by the USA for Moderna vaccines. For
    Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech combined, the country has
    potentially overpaid by as much as USD$375 million
    (NZD$539.2 million).
  • Senegal, a lower-income nation,
    said it paid around USD$4 million (NZD$5.7 million) for
    200,000 doses for Sinopharm vaccines, which equates to
    around USD$20 (NZD$28.8) a dose.
  • The UK alone has
    potentially paid £1.8 billion (NZD$3.6 billion) more than
    the cost of production for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines
    –enough money to pay every worker in its National Health
    Service a bonus of more than £1000
    (NZD$2000).

Maaza Seyoum said: “As long as the
pharmaceutical corporations retain their monopolies on the
life-saving technology, they will always prioritise
contracts where they can make the most excessive profits,
leaving developing countries out in the cold.

“With
government budgets in crisis the world over, and COVID cases
rising in many developing countries, it’s time to stop
subsidising corporate fat cats. It’s time to put people
before
profits.”

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UNICEF Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report No. 2 : 1 January – 31 July 2021

  • In response to the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) outbreak, over 1.5 million children under five years of age were vaccinated with nOPV2 during the combined IPV-routine immunization and catch-up campaign conducted from 15-20 June 2021.

  • UNICEF supported COVID-19 vaccine deployment, including supply chain management. Sierra Leone received 96,000 and 42,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX and the African Union respectively, and 200,000 Sinopharm vaccines from China.

  • Payments under the COVID-19 Social Safety Net programme were completed for the first batch of beneficiaries reaching more than 32,000 households, with plans to include more people with disabilities in the second batch of enrolment.

  • UNICEF supported Risk Communication and Community Engagement related to COVID-19, EVD preparedness and the Polio Outbreak through the distribution of information, education and communication materials, social mobilization and community engagement of over 582,000 people.

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    Namibia objects to Israel’s observer status at African Union

    WINDHOEK, July 30 (Xinhua) — Namibia’s government on Thursday expressed deep concern and disappointment that Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat received credentials from Israel’s ambassador, granting Israel observer status at the AU.

    “Granting observer status to an occupying power is contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, particularly at a time when the State of Israel is increasing its acts of oppression in total violation of international law and disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people,” Penda Naanda, executive director of Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said in a statement.

    “It is also contrary to the firm and solid commitment of the heads of state and government of the AU to support the Palestinian cause, as evidenced in the various declarations adopted at each ordinary session of the assembly. Namibia believes in the two states as a solution to the issues between the State of Israel and Palestine,” he said.

    Therefore, Namibia disassociates itself from granting observer status to Israel, while the reason for Israel’s loss of the status remains unchanged, he said.

    “Namibia maintains that Israel can only regain observer status at the AU on condition that it ceases to occupy Palestine, and grant its people the right to self-determination,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Namibia reaffirms its unwavering support to and solidarity with the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, and supports the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence with East Jerusalem as its capital, he said.

    “In this regard, Namibia will officially submit its objection/reservation to the chairperson of the AU Commission, in due course,” he added.

    Israel announced on July 22 that it had joined the AU as an observer state after being kept out for two decades, according to Israeli media.

    Israel previously held observer status at the predecessor Organization of African Unity until 2002, when the organization was dissolved and became the AU.

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    U.S. ready to partner with African nations to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable development – Banks

    Dana L. Banks
    Dana L. Banks

    The United States has said it is ready it is ready to partner with African nations to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable development, enhanced health security, democratic progress, and the rule of law.

    Special Assistant to President Joe Biden and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council, Dana L. Banks, who gave the assurance at a digital press briefing on how the U.S. government is working to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment through Prosper Africa, noted that U.S and Africa must all work together to advance shared vision of a better future.

    She noted that Africa is a pivotal moment in its trajectory, saying that the next decade will determine which path Africa takes.

    According to her, “President Biden believes that Africa’s many dynamic and fast-growing economies and populations can and should mean a bright future for the continent.

    The briefing which held in South Africa on Wednesday, featured an interactive session, in which Ms. Banks took questions on her country’s programmes for the continent.

    The transcript of the session is shared below:

    Moderator: Good afternoon to everyone from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub. I would like to welcome our participants from across the continent and thank all of you for taking part in this discussion. Today, we are very pleased to be joined by the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council Ms. Dana L. Banks. Ms. Banks will discuss how the U.S. Government is working to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment through Prosper Africa. This press briefing comes as the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.- Africa Business Summit 2021 takes place virtually, with Prosper Africa as a sponsor of the event.

    We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from Ms. Banks; then we will turn to your questions. We will try to get to as many of them as we can during the time that we have.

    Ms. Banks: Thank you so much, Marissa, and it’s really a pleasure to be here with you today, with the Media Hub, and with journalists from across the continent. As someone who has spent the bulk of her career in government service either working on the continent or working on African issues from Washington, it is a real pleasure and honor to serve the administration in this capacity here at this time for the Biden-Harris administration at the National Security Council.

    So I’ll just start briefly with a few remarks and, as you stated, then we’ll take questions. Happy to take questions.

    This past year has really shown us how interconnected our world is and how our fates are bound together. This is why President Biden is committed to rebuilding our partnerships around the world. We must all work together to advance – to advance our shared vision of a better future. Africa is a pivotal moment in its trajectory. The next decade will determine which path Africa takes. President Biden believes that Africa’s many dynamic and fast-growing economies and populations can and should mean a bright future for the continent – one featuring inclusive growth, sustainable development, enhanced health security, democratic progress, and the rule of law.

    The United States stands ready to partner with African nations as well as its vibrant civil society and young leaders to achieve this future. Our commitment to achieving Africa’s potential also means working with African nations to combat the threats posed by violent extremism, by climate change, and undue foreign influence. And as we pursue our shared affirmative agenda, we also – we will also work with African leaders to address conflicts and humanitarian crises that are costing lives around the continent. And as President Biden said in the opening weeks of this administration, the United States stands ready to partner with Africa in solidarity, in support, and in mutual respect.

    And so I would like to just mention briefly about Prosper Africa and what was announced this week, and then we’ll turn it over for questions.

    So yesterday, the administration kicked off our Prosper Africa Build Together Campaign at the Corporate Council on Africa’s U.S.-Africa Business Summit. In light of this, the President has requested $80 million in additional funding resources to jumpstart this campaign. The campaign is a targeted effort to elevate and energize the United States commitment to trade and investment with countries across the African continent under the Biden-Harris administration. And our goal is to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa by connecting U.S. and African businesses and investors with tangible deal opportunities. And how will we get this done? So, a few concrete ways in which we will seek to do this. And consistent with the commitment made by President Biden through the Build Back Better World, or B3W Partnership at the G7, we will accomplish these goals by identifying and promoting new opportunities for U.S. and African businesses, investors, and workers that increase trade and mobilize private capital to fuel economic growth and job creation, with a focus on key sectors and the green economy.

    For example, the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, committed nearly $2 billion in financing for projects in Africa in the first half of Fiscal Year 2021 and aims to close another $500 million or more by the end of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a cooperative agreement with the West African Power Pool and an MOU with the governments of Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire, which will facilitate opportunities for increased U.S. trade and investment in the energy sector in the West Africa region. There are also several other agreements and initiatives involving USAID, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and other agencies, with the goal of making it easier for U.S. businesses in key sectors critical for Africa’s economic growth to invest on the continent.

    Lastly, we will provide targeted support to small and medium-sized businesses with a specific focus on the African diaspora and their businesses and investors across the United States.

    So with that, I will gladly turn it over for questions and happy to expound further on some of – any of those points I’ve just raised.

    Moderator: Well, thank you, Ms. Banks. We will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call. For those asking questions, please indicate if you would like to ask a question and then type in your name, location, and affiliation into the “questions and answers” tab. We ask that you limit yourself to one question related to the topic of today’s briefing: how the U.S. Government is working to increase U.S.-Africa trade and investment through Prosper Africa.

    Those of you who are asking questions in language – in French or Portuguese, you may type those questions into the Q&A and we’ll make sure that those questions are translated for our speaker.

    Our first question, we’ll go to questions sent to us, the first one being from Mr. Peter Fabricius of Daily Maverick out of South Africa. Oh, we’re going to go live to Peter. Let’s go live to Peter Fabricius. Okay. Peter, you may ask your question live.

    Question: Hi. Thanks, Marissa. Thank you, Ms. Banks, too, for briefing us. Yeah, I just want – my question is really just to ask whether you believe, as the U.S., that the incidents in South Africa in the last couple of weeks of quite massive rioting and looting and so on will impact on business confidence from the U.S. in South Africa, and possibly either cause U.S. companies to disinvest or discourage new companies from investing? Thank you.

    Ms. Banks: Thank you, Peter, and it’s good to hear your voice this morning. Look, we – I think we were definitely concerned by the recent protests and subsequent rioting and looting in South Africa, but we are also encouraged at the way that South Africans have pulled together in the wake of that to rebuild the country and how President Ramaphosa has marshaled the resources of the government, also of the private sector, to help companies build back and to help individuals who were affected by the looting. And I think that for Prosper Africa, which is an initiative of 17 U.S. Government departments and agencies, each bringing their own skills and expertise to the initiative to strengthen what they do to the benefit of American investors and key sectors on the continent, I think that it’s important – even more so now, in the light of this, and unfortunately South Africa is not alone; there are – there’s instability and other concerns across the continent in various sectors and markets where investors are looking to invest, and that’s why it’s even more important that we have experts on the ground who can help advise our companies and businesses about the investment climate. And we will continue to do that.

    I think American investors are intrepid and they are looking for new markets and they absolutely realize that Africa is the fastest-growing and potentially the most profitable markets for them to invest. So that is what we will continue to do as the U.S. Government: advise, provide context and the like to ensure that there are good, sound investments in key sectors across the continent.

    Moderator: Thank you. Next we’ll go to Simon Ateba. Mr. Ateba, please ask your question and identify your outlet.

    Question: Good. Thank you for taking my question. This is Simon Ateba with Today News Africa in Washington, D.C. And thank you for doing this. President Biden and his administration are dead serious about competing and confronting China in Africa. Can you talk a little bit about how the new commitment made at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit will help the U.S. counter China in Africa as far as trade is concerned? Thank you.

    Ms. Banks: Sure. Thank you, Simon. Thanks for that question. Look, I think that we are – the United States is interested in investing and increasing investment in Africa for the basic, sound potential and possibilities that exist on the continent. The way we do trade and investment is quite different from other countries, and particularly in China that you mentioned. And we – the reason why we are re-envisioning or have re-envisioned Prosper Africa is because we see it as a genuine partnership based on a commitment to shared prosperity. And that is how the United States does foreign policy; it’s in line and consistent with our goals and with our beliefs as Americans.

    Africa’s increasing integration into global markets, the demographic boom, and of course the thriving culture of entrepreneurship presents a remarkable opportunity for us to strengthen those economic ties and promote new opportunities for both U.S. and African businesses to fuel economic growth and job creation and greater U.S. participation in Africa’s future. So that is really our goal in this.

    Obviously, the Build Back Better World initiative is one that will play on more of the infrastructure type of deals and engagements in terms of health infrastructure and actual hard infrastructure in countries, digital infrastructure, things that countries need in order to prosper and to grow and to also make it a more conducive environment for investing. And so we don’t see ourselves as necessarily in competition with China. Obviously, there are some challenges related to Chinese engagement, and we will address those directly as necessary, but our engagement with Africa is focused on the mutually beneficial relationship and partnership that we see with countries across the continent.

    Moderator: So the question of China versus Africa in relationship to the U.S. is a big one, and we have two questions that are in our Q&A, and so I’m going to sort of combine those for you to answer. One is from Voice of America, from Si Yang. The other is from Brooks Spector here in Johannesburg. So the questions are: “The Biden administration has made it clear that the U.S.-China relationship for the future is one of a competition between democracy and authoritarian governance. The other side of that is with the new administration’s push, can the Biden administration match Chinese engagement with Africa, and what role does democratic values play and human rights play in President Biden’s plan for Africa?” So maybe a little insight on the possible strategy for Africa here from the Biden administration.

    Ms. Banks: Right. Thank you. Thank you for those questions and for putting those together. So we issued the interim strategic guidance early on in the administration, and obviously, we are currently in the process of drafting the full National Security Strategy, which we hope to release later this year. But I think – and as we’ve seen with various executive orders and national security memoranda specifically as it relates to anticorruption, democratic values, we know, are at the core of American principles, and certainly are at the core of the Biden administration’s goals in engaging across the world and particularly in Africa. And it is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration to elevate democracy, good governance, rule of law, and human rights as issues across our foreign policy because this is fundamental to who we are and this is fundamental to what the United States stands for.

    And our support for citizen-centered governance and respect for human rights seeks to reduce instability, fragility, and resurgent authoritarianism, as you mentioned. So really getting at the root causes of instability and drivers of conflicts that we see across the continent, such as in northern Mozambique and the Sahel – very acutely we see it there. But we also know that there has been worrying backsliding in democracy and respect for human rights in places on the continent, and that is a concern. But I think that what we hope to do is work with our partners, work with governments, work with civil society to address these issues, and again, making our values and that of democratic governance and the rule of law a cornerstone of our strategy, of our diplomacy, and, of course, of our engagement with our African partners going forward. Does that help answer the question?

    Moderator: I think that it does. Thank you.

    Ms. Banks: Okay.

    Moderator: Next we’ll go live to Pearl Matibe. Pearl, please state your affiliation and your question.

    Question: Hi. I’m Pearl and I’m with Power FM 98.7. I am stationed here in Washington, D.C. but we broadcast throughout South Africa and neighboring countries. Ms. Banks, I just want to begin by applauding your efforts and the fact that you have acknowledged and you are working to include a significant sector that supports the continent, which is the diaspora. Previous administrations have not done the same, and I look forward to seeing something definitive, demonstrative in a Biden doctrine towards Africa that is inclusive of the diaspora beyond just remittances that they send to the continent.

    My question to you is regarding the diaspora, and that is: Can you clarify a little more and maybe go beyond what you shared already about what you’re willing in this new initiative? I’m glad to see that there is a fresh take in this foreign policy approach, but I’d like to get a clearer understanding as to how that might work, where people might be able to get this information. I think that this is going to be welcome news for millions of people in our audience, so I appreciate your response and I look forward to a Biden doctrine that has the diaspora included in that. Thank you.

    Ms. Banks: Thank you very much, Pearl. Great question. Happy to give you a few specific examples of how Prosper Africa has already sort of lived up to what we are envisioning now for this reimagining phase of it and the types of deals we – excuse me – and the activities and engagements we will continue to do. And I just want to mention that all of this information can be found on Prosper Africa’s website, which is prosperafrica.gov, and we hope to have a fact sheet on the White House website shortly to enumerate all of the – the entire reimagining of the initiative and some more details that you can refer to.

    So I’ll just mention a couple of deals here. So several examples. There is a mother-daughter time behind Eu’Genia Shea cosmetics, which is based in Ghana, that was supported by Prosper Africa working with USAID and the U.S. African Development Foundation to build their business from the ground up. They are now exporting Mother’s Shea moisturizer to over 1,000 Target stores across the United States, supporting 10,000 women shea pickers in the process. And I know many of us on this call, particularly women, are very familiar with the Shea moisture brand.

    Also, the United States worked with institutional investors across the United States to tap new investment opportunities in Africa. The Chicago public school teachers’ pension fund recently invested $20 million in an African fund that supports African businesses in healthcare, education, telecommunications, and more. This investment is generating returns for Chicago’s teachers while supporting innovative and impactful African businesses. And then last but not least, just yesterday actually, the Development Finance Corporation announced that it will provide $217 million in debt financing for a new 83 megawatt powerplant in Freetown, which will increase Sierra Leone’s generation capacity while improving the lives and livelihoods across the country.

    So I hope those examples help bear out some of what we are and will continue to do with the Prosper Africa initiative.

    Moderator: Thank you so much for sharing those. We’re going to go to one of our French-language contacts out of Senegal, Abdourahmane Diallo of the African Press Agency, APA News, based in Dakar, Senegal. His question is: “I would like to know if the 80 million requested by President Biden is ready and available” – and let’s see about that – “is ready and available, and how it will be used, allocated with different sectors, et cetera, how those funds will be used and if there are any particular sectors which are being targeted.”

    Ms. Banks: Right, so sectors. Yes. So currently that request is part of the President’s overall budget request to Congress. That is also publicly available information, so you can look and see what all is included, not just the 80 million but the President’s entire request. And we cannot sort of get ahead of what Congress may eventually approve, but what we’re hoping that will do is to support, as I mentioned, some initiatives that will be in line with what Build – the Build Back Better World initiative envisions in terms of infrastructure financing. I mentioned the Development Finance Corporation, additional deals, but also to try to assist the 17 U.S. Government agencies as they seek to do their work on the continent, whether that’s increased match-making for businesses for American investors in key sectors on the continent, whether it’s healthcare, agriculture, the power sector. Those are some of the key sectors that we will be looking at.

    So that’s generally how we envision using, if approved, this 80 million that has been requested, and to really – Prosper Africa was a new initiative started in 2019. There is a history of wonderful initiatives being started in previous administrations that have carried over. Just to name a few: PEPFAR, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Power Africa. So this is an initiative that definitely we felt had hope, had promise, and we wanted to build it up better, to build Prosper back better to make sure that it truly meets the needs of not just the American investors, but the sectors and the businesses in Africa where we seek to invest, and that is also why we added the element of diaspora businesses and support to women-owned businesses and small and medium enterprises on the continent.

    Moderator: Thank you. That’s actually a great segue, talking about initiatives, as we see a question in our Q&A from Femi Adekoya from Nigeria, The Guardian. The question is: “Do you see Prosper Africa replacing AGOA, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, when the latter ends in 2025?”

    Ms. Banks: Great question. I know there is a lot of consternation and concern about the looming legislative end of the AGOA legislation, seeking to sunset in 2025. And look, and I think we’re still having conversations with our colleagues at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in how we can take sort of the next chapter of AGOA. Because even if AGOA sunsets in – well, the legislation does it in 2025, but if there is not another round of AGOA that comes up, then what would be the next element? What is the next step in the trade relationship with the United States and Africa? And I think the AfCFTA is one way that we are looking at increasing – going back to the previous question about the 80 million – increasing some of the engagement that we want to see with the continent through a mechanism that was approved by host countries on the continent, and we want to use that to try and help for our engagement, because this is something that African countries have said that they want. So we want to see how we can support that and look at sort of the next level of trade, of a trade relationship with Africa as a bloc but also with individual countries.

    So it’s something that we’re still reviewing and we’re looking at, and I would not necessarily think of the sunsetting of AGOA as necessarily a bad thing. I think that larger countries on the continent have been able to take advantage of AGOA benefits, and some of the – some countries, frankly, have not yet been able to. So I think we need to look at sort of new ways to make sure that our trade relationship with all of Africa, with the entire continent, is one that’s mutually beneficial for all of us.

    Moderator: Absolutely. Advisor Banks, can we have you for another five minutes or so? We have a couple —

    Ms. Banks: Sure.

    Moderator: — of questions we’d like to get in. Thank you so much. The next question is from ESI, out of South Africa, from Ms. Claire Volkwyn. Her question is: “How is this initiative,” Prosper Africa, “likely to impact on the work being done by Power Africa and USAID? Is there a specific focus on power in the Prosper Africa program?” I’m excited to hear your response because it will help people to understand that this big umbrella consists of 17 U.S. Government agencies working together. Over to you, Ms. Banks.

    Ms. Banks: That’s right. Thank you, Marissa. So, as I mentioned earlier, we are – Power Africa was an initiative that came about under the Biden administration and really has emerged as one of the strongest and most enduring, I think, and most tangible initiatives that we see that really makes an impact in the lives of people across the continent. And so, of course, power is a sector that we are definitely looking at as one of the priority sectors for engagement with Prosper Africa, and I’d like to also sort of fold in climate as well because climate is also – or the climate sector is one that we are looking at.

    So I’ll just mention, and going here to some of my facts just to make sure that I have my numbers accurate, so Power Africa and the African Trade Insurance Agency recently signed a memorandum of understanding that extends their cooperation through 2022 to help increase investments into African member countries and two-way trade flows between Africa, the United States, and the rest of the world. ATI facilitates exports, foreign direct investment flows into, and trade flows within the continent. So that’s just one example of how Power Africa is incorporated into Prosper Africa.

    And then another point I’ll just make: Recent commitments from Power Africa, from the Development Finance Corporation, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as the U.S. Africa Development Foundation, will support the expansion of off-grid energy solutions in Africa, which represents $24 billion – a $24 billion opportunity annually. Also, through its global partnership for climate-smart – here we go – for climate-smart infrastructure, U.S. – the U.S. Trade and Development Agency plans to dedicate up to $60 million over the next three years to advance climate-smart infrastructure solutions that will open emerging markets to the export of U.S.-manufactured goods, technologies, and services. A significant portion of these funds will support resilient and low-carbon infrastructure solutions across Africa. And of course, I mentioned the West African Power Pool cooperative agreement with the MCC earlier as well.

    So that’s just some examples of how we’re – how Power Africa is involved in Prosper Africa.

    Moderator: There, it really is amazing how the U.S. Government is piecing all of this together to really show what economic statecraft looks like on the continent.

    Our next question will be live. We will go to Mr. Esnart Lungu out of Zambia. Mr. Lungu, please ask your question and state your affiliation. Esnart Lungu, you may ask your question. Okay, you may be – oh, there you go. Mr. Lungu, ask your question.

    Question: I can hear you, but I will just go ahead and —

    Moderator: Oh, Ms. Lungu, ask your question.

    Question: All right. So my question is – my name is Esnart Lungu from Spring TV – Spring 24 TV in Zambia. So my question is regarding exports. So the U.S. has been considered as one of the most difficult countries or markets to penetrate for African producers, Zambia especially. I think we only have, like, one producer exporting to the U.S. So how will this initiative help make it easier for our producers to export to the U.S.? Thank you.

    Ms. Banks: Thank you, Esnart, for that question. Excuse me. So what we’ve always done as the U.S. Government and various agencies that are involved in Prosper is that, through USAID, for example, we help support local entrepreneurs with advising services, with also support for growing their businesses in trying to understand how to best market their products for – excuse me, for potential export to the United States. So we will continue to do that. We will probably beef up some of those services to make sure that we’re truly focusing on the key sectors, but also helping some of those smaller businesses, those smaller entrepreneurs. Look, I’ve been across – I’ve been – I’ve traveled across the continent and have seen so many wonderful, really inspirational examples of entrepreneurship from textiles to shea butter to jewelry, and I think to myself, this would sell like hotcakes in Target or in Macy’s.

    So I think that Africa is definitely à la mode, as they say, and products from the continent, and so I think that this is what Prosper Africa will do and will continue to do and will seek to do more of in the future – to make sure that those smaller businesses, those women-owned businesses are on the ground, have the resources and the tools that they need to be able to connect to investors in the States and hopefully connect to diaspora businesses and women-owned businesses in the States who truly understand what it is about – what different types of products and handicrafts that can really sell to markets here in the U.S. So I’m very excited about that.

    Moderator: I think we can hear the excitement in your voice. So we’re running out of time. We think we’re going to have one more question. We’ll go live to Mr. Jared Szuba. Jared, please state your affiliation.

    Question: Hi, thank you for doing this. I’m with Al-Monitor. I’m just wondering if you could provide us with an update on the relationship with Sudan. I know that there was a promise of wheat aid under the previous administration, if that has been fulfilled; and what obstacles remain towards the U.S. relationship with, obviously, this very important country in East Africa?

    Ms. Banks: Sure, that’s a great question. Look, I think Sudan is at a pivotal moment in its transition to a fully functioning, or back to a fully functioning democracy. We stand with the people of Sudan. We definitely have strong and robust engagements going forward and some things coming up that I think will definitely demonstrate our commitment to our relationship and also to the people of Sudan. We have assistance packages. I don’t have the exact numbers but I’m sure I can get those to – here we go. Oh, no, that’s not the assistance numbers. I can get those to Marissa after the fact, if you want to know the assistance, the total numbers.

    But we really are supportive of the transition that’s taking place. I recently participated in a U.S.-Sudan Business Council event with Prime Minister Hamdok and was very encouraged by the opportunities that are burgeoning in Sudan right now for business, but also in terms of the opportunities that are being provided to its people through the government and through assistance from us and from international partners. So I think there are some exciting things coming for our relationship with Sudan and for the people of Sudan. So, stay tuned.

    Moderator: Okay, I’m probably going to get in trouble for this, Ms. Banks, but there is one final – one final question, from Ghana.

    Ms. Banks: It’s okay.

    Moderator: And we’re going to go live to Maxwell Kudekor, and then, you guys, I thank you so much, and then we’ll have to close this up. Mr. Kudekor, the last question is for you, so please state your affiliation and your question.

    Question: Yeah, thank you. Please, can you hear me?

    Moderator: Yes, we can hear you. Go ahead.

    Question: My name is Maxwell Kudekor. I’m from the Multimedia Group in Ghana. I am particularly concerned about marine security, in the sense that most of this trade that we’re talking about happens or is going to happen largely on the sea. How is the U.S. assisting coastal nations to provide security on the sea, especially in an era that piracy and other crimes are reportedly going high at sea?

    Moderator: So I’m just going to rephrase that question to make sure you heard it well, Ms. Banks. The question is, what is the U.S. going to do to protect the seas – we’re talking about piracy here – as most of the trade and investment, the seas will have to be used to transport a lot of materials? So what is the U.S. doing to sort of assist countries along coastal states in Africa to have better maritime security?

    Ms. Banks: Great, thank you for that. And I take it since you’re calling from Ghana, I will focus it on sort of the Gulf of Guinea and maritime security. Look, obviously we are concerned by the increasing threats that we’re seeing in the Sahel and the threats that that poses as those threats potentially move further southward and towards the maritime borders of countries like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo. And we are working with our partners in the Sahel, with the French, with the EU, and with others to try to stem some of that threat that is currently present, the terrorist threat in the Sahel, but also the maritime security concerns, we are with our colleagues at the Department of Defense, we have some assistance – excuse me – programs that we work with individual countries on helping to secure their maritime borders.

    But as I mentioned earlier in the call, at the root of all of this is the root causes of instability, so we are also working with governments on that coast, in particular the Gulf of Guinea, to be able to better address the security challenges, but also service delivery to their citizens to prevent, to stem, hopefully, this threat from further encroaching on the maritime borders and threatening the lives and livelihoods of people in the Sahel and down into littoral West Africa. So it’s a great question. It’s one that we’re definitely engaged on and we will continue to work on that.

    Moderator: Well, everybody, that is all the time that we have today. Advisor Banks, do you have any final words?

    Ms. Banks: Yes, I’m glad you asked. Since no one brought this up – I’m actually surprised that no one brought it up – but I did want to highlight, because as I started my remarks saying how the last year and the pandemic has shown how we are interconnected, and as I’m sure you’re aware that President Biden, back in May, announced that we would be sharing with – globally 25 million vaccines, vaccines doses around the world and on the continent. And we have been, over the past three weeks, working through the African Union and COVAX delivering first rounds, in some cases second rounds, of doses to our African partners. And just today, we are happy to announce that we will be sending over 5 million doses to South Africa as well as 4 million – 5 million doses – over 5 million doses to South Africa of Pfizer vaccines as well as 4 million doses of Moderna vaccine to Nigeria.

    So it just so happened that the shipment was – is timed today for my Media Hub call, but we have been delivering to countries across the continent for the past three weeks. Please go to statedepartment.gov[1] [sic], follow Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Twitter handle and you can see all of the doses that are being and have been distributed across the continent. But I was just very pleased to announce those two today because, to date, they are the largest number of doses that we have shipped to the continent. So we’re very excited about that and we hope that these will go a long way in helping to provide safety and health security for the people of Nigeria and South Africa, which will then enable them to get back to their regular activities, their economic activities, and help them to build back better.

    Source: DreamAfrica LIVE (A DreamGalaxy Trusted Brand)

    Posted on

    Quotes of the Day from Xinhua World News, July 30

    WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that all workers hired by the U.S. federal government are required either to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, or to submit to a series of vigorous safety protocols.

    Unvaccinated people dying from COVID-19 is “an American tragedy,” Biden said during a speech at the White House in an effort to convince those still reluctant to get vaccinated to receive their doses.

    “People are dying and will die who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die,” the president said, pointing particularly to those who are not yet vaccinated and are currently hospitalized due to contracting the virus.

    —-

    WINDHOEK — Namibia’s government on Thursday expressed deep concern and disappointment that Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat received credentials from Israel’s ambassador, granting Israel observer status at the AU.

    “Granting observer status to an occupying power is contrary to the principles and objectives of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, particularly at a time when the State of Israel is increasing its acts of oppression in total violation of international law and disregard for the human rights of the Palestinian people,” Penda Naanda, executive director of Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, said in a statement.

    —-

    BUENOS AIRES — Experts in viral diseases and infectology have highlighted the efficacy of Chinese vaccines against COVID-19 and its new variants.

    “According to the evidence available so far, vaccines that have been licensed by the World Health Organization (WHO) are effective against all variants in circulation globally,” Jairo Mendez Rico, adviser on emerging viral diseases to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), told Xinhua recently.

    —-

    PYONGYANG — Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has instructed the DPRK military to complete preparations for coping with “any military provocation of enemies,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday.

    “Commanders and political officers should focus all efforts on completing preparations for actively and offensively coping with any military provocation of enemies,” Kim said when chairing a workshop for military commanders and political cadres in Pyongyang on July 24-27.

    Source: DreamAfrica LIVE (A DreamGalaxy Trusted Brand)