Daily Archives: August 1, 2017

Benin’s National Day

On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the people of Benin as you celebrate the 57th anniversary of your national independence on August 1st.

The United States reaffirms its support of Benin and its goal of a better and more prosperous future. We use this opportunity to recognize both our commitments to partner on regional stability, sustainable economic growth, and universal respect for human rights.

Our best wishes to you on this special day.

Source: U.S Department of State

Committee deals with TVET certificates backlog

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training will visit Tshwane this week as part of efforts to address the certification backlog.

The week-long oversight visit to the Department of Higher Education and Training, as well as the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), is aimed at clearing the backlog in the issuing of National Certificate Vocational (NCV) and diploma certificates for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

The chairperson of the committee, Connie September, said the oversight visit will go a long way in the fight against unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Key to this is efficiency in ensuring that young people do not experience further delays in acquiring their qualifications and in accessing economic opportunities.

Radical economic transformation will be meaningful if those who have been equipped with skills are certified and given the opportunities they deserve in order to enter the job market, September said.

September said the intention of the visit is to get insight into capacity related challenges in the administration and examination units at the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The visit to Sita is aimed at getting insight into the functionality and effectiveness of the systems geared to resolving certification challenges.

September said it is important that the higher education sector functions with minimal challenges as possible, if the country is to deliver on its long-term policy positions.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Central Energy Fund Board Members

The Minister of Energy, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi has not suspended the Central Energy Fund Board Members as per reports

The Minister of Energy, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi has not suspended the Board of Directors of Central Energy Fund (CEF) as purported by the media. The Minister has however given the board members letters on the morning of the 26th of July 2017 requesting an explanation on concerns.

It is also important to stress the fact that Minister Kubayi is the shareholder to CEF and all matters relating to governance at the SOC will be dealt between herself and the Board, as such matters are dealt within the confidentiality it deserves. Should there be a need to make public announcement on any matter relating to the issues, Minister Kubayi will do so at an appropriate time.

At this stage, we appeal to all not give a misrepresentation of the process.

Source: Government of South Africa

National water levels continue to drop

The steady gradual decline of the national dam levels continues amid fears that the downslide will accelerate at alarming proportions in the coming weeks, Department of Water and Sanitation said on Tuesday.

The weekly dam levels report shows that the national water levels of South Africa's 211 dams stand at 69.5% as measured on 31 July 2017, compared to 52.8% during the same time last year.

A week ago the dam levels stood at 69.9% and this week saw a drop of 0.4%.

This downwards trend of the country's reservoirs is worrisome and the Department of Water and Sanitation appeals to communities, including businesses across the spectrum to use the resource with extra care, the department said in a statement.

The provincial water levels decreased by 0.4% to 56.2% in Eastern Cape, 0.5% to 81.1% in Free State, 0.1% to 88.7% in Gauteng and went down by 1.0% to 54.1% in KwaZulu-Natal.

In Limpopo, the dam levels also went down by 0.3% to 76.5%, Mpumalanga down by 0.3% to 76.6% and down by 0.6% to 82.2% in North West.

The Northern Cape dam level went up to 91.3% from 87.3%, while the Western Cape saw a slight increase by 1.1% to 27.3%.

The Algoa System, serving five dams around the Nelson Mandela Bay, decreased by 0.7% to 32.0% from 32.7% last week. The system was at 72.4% during the same time last year.

Amathole System with six dams serving Buffalo City decreased by 0.9% to 62.7%. Last year the system was at 83.4%.

The Bloemfontein System with four dams serving mainly Mangaung dropped by a point to 44.8% compared with 34.4% at the same time last year.

The Cape Town System with six dams serving mainly City of Cape Town gained from 27.0% to 27.4%. The system was at 52.7% during the same time last year.

The Crocodile West System with six dams serving mainly Tshwane, Madibeng and Rustenburg dropped by 0.8% to 97.4%. The system was recorded at 95.6% during the same time last year.

The Integrated Vaal River System with 14 dams serving mainly Gauteng Sasol and Eskom has decreased by 0.7% to 80.2% compared with 54.9% recorded during the same time last year.

The Umgeni Dam System with five dams serving mainly eThekwini and Msunduzi dropped from 60.3% to 59.7%. The System was at 48.3% last year.

The department reminded water users that South Africa is a water scarce country and all the available water must be used with due diligence to avoid running out.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Senegal Start-Up Trains Young Coders

DAKAR, SENEGAL � Senegal's tech scene has been slow to get off the ground due to a lack of qualified coders. But a locally run company is trying to change that, while also helping young people find jobs.

Local tech start-ups are tackling day-to-day conveniences in the capital, Dakar. Firefly, a digital advertising company, places TV screens in public buses, but has struggled to find qualified web and mobile app developers in Senegal.

"They are trained in technologies we do not work with," explains Mafal Lo, the co-founder of Firefly. "For example, all engineering schools in Dakar work in Java. We work mostly with PHP and Python, with new front-end technologies like Bootstrap. These are not things they learn in school.

Until recently, that is.

At Volkeno, students learn web development, digital marketing or graphic design. At the end of the one-month training program, they will spend two months interning with a local company.

The classes are free. Volkeno is supported by companies like Firefly in exchange for hiring interns. At least 15 of those interns have landed full-time contracts.

CEO Abdoul Khadre Diallo initially set up Volkeno to provide tech services to local entrepreneurs. The training program was launched later when he realized none of his interns were sufficiently qualified.

"Here, young people are not encouraged to be interested in these skills. Most schools remain too classical. The training is too classical. You see schools where in five years, there is no decent practical training, in my opinion," says IT professor Babacar Fall who taught the workshop in St. Louis.

There are efforts to change that. At a coding workshop in the northern city of St. Louis, high school students are introduced to coding and web development.

The Next Einstein Forum's Africa Science Week is held in 13 African countries to promote interest in STEM fields, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

For me, the problem lies in the content of university courses," Fall says. "Because you can start by teaching HTML, but then you evolve and teach HTML5. For me, we must simply update everything.

Volkeno has registered more than 40 functioning start-ups in Dakar, all of which operate through websites and mobile applications.

If you are trained in technology, you can find work after you graduate," explains Fatim Sarah Kaita, a digital marketing trainee at Volkeno. "Because it is very difficult to find internships and everything here, and your relations play a big role. But for example, if you learn programming you can set up your own project, create an application. If you know digital marketing, you can do all the promotion yourself, so it is important to get training.

The founder of Senegal's next big start-up may be sitting right here in this room.

Source: Voice of America


NIAMEY (NIGER), Germany lent support to France's push to make operational a new multinational military force that will tackle militants in Africa's Sahel region and urged other powers to contribute funds at a September donor conference.

On a joint visit to Niger's capital, Niamey, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and her French counterpart, Florence Parly, said the Sahel force was West Africa's best hope for defeating the militants.

Some observers see the G5 Sahel force - comprised of troops from Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad - as forming the basis of an eventual exit strategy for around 4,000 French troops deployed in the volatile region.

France has said it has no plans to withdraw them - a stance reiterated by Parly in Niamey.

"We need to find other European partners. Italy, Spain and others have already expressed an interest," the German minister said before leaving Niamey, where she announced the supply of military equipment to Niger.

Parly and Von der Leyen's trips are the latest show of tightening defence and security cooperation between Berlin and Paris since Emmanuel Macron became French president in May.

Macron wants the roughly 5,000-strong Sahel force to be fully operational by the autumn.

Paris considers the Sahel a breeding ground for militants and traffickers who pose a threat to Europe. Yet the force faces obstacles, including financing, arms and training.

The European Union has pledged about 50 million euros (US$59.20 million) and France has said it would contribute about 8 million euros by the end of the year. The force will cost between 400 and 500 million euros per year.

The ministers announced plans for a September donor conference in Berlin.

Parly met the presidents of Chad and Niger. She will travel on Tuesday to a French military base in the northern city of Gao in Mali before heading to Bamako where she will meet up with Von der Leyen again.