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Women Need To Be Looked At As Equal As Other Members Of Society - Sheena Ruparelia

Some of Kampala most influential young women Friday afternoon met at Victoria University in the auditorium to discuss the theme ‘Enhancing Women Capabilities towards development in Uganda,’.

The talk show streamed online was attended by Sheena Ruparelia of Ruparelia Group, Uganda Law Society President-elect Phiona Nabasa Wall, Katusabe Ssemwezi the Academic Registrar Victoria University, Karitas Karisimbi a Media personality and Malaa Kivila Odera the Founder & C.E.O Sylmax Consult.

Sheena noted that women struggle to make it in life is long, hard but very possible if they unite and work together. “we must support one another; we must be willing to learn and listen. Open your opportunities in every single day and appreciate it”. Sheena Ruparelia says.

“I think it’s up to us to change the society, no one is going to do it for us, it is us to work together and togetherness education, willingness, openness and target orientation makes it possible, we can do it,” she added.

Sheena noted that there is also a problem of inequality against women which she says needs to be addressed in order to be able to work together to streamline and share the available opportunities equally.

“Women need to be looked at as equal as other members of society. Women should also be willing and available to perform any role they feel they want to be doing.

“In terms of development, a woman can be involved in as much as she feels she can. Actually, if you look at societies today, there are a number of women in key roles and they have done so much more and some times more than their male counterparts”.

Phiona Nabasa and Karisimbi agreed that for the women empowerment effort to yield positive results, men must be brought on board and mentored in that direction.

“We cannot talk to the women alone when the men are in bars drinking. They will come back from bars and abuse these women. It is time for us to go out there and involve the men at an early stage. The earlier we do, the better,” Karisimbi said.

Nabasa Wall believes that if we don’t empower boys, it will be a disaster. We need a strategy to bring boys on board, she said.

Malaa noted that while girls are raised to be homemakers, there is a need to prepare and present them with the same opportunities as boys.

 

Nutrition Should Be Embeded Within Covid-19 Response Strategies

The African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) have unveiled a position paper calling upon African Heads of State and Governments to ensure that financing for nutrition is included in their country's COVID-19 response and recovery plans. The position paper, titled "Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery," was sent to African member states by His Majesty King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, an ALN "Nutrition Champion".

Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery recommends that countries maintain and increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition, and ensure there are no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in immediate, medium-term and post-pandemic recovery COVID-19 responses.

The paper emphasizes the role of high-level political leadership, in particular Heads of State and Ministers of Finance, as Nutrition Champions. The Champions aim to ensure that actions and economic stimulus packages developed to combat the pandemic include plans to secure healthy and nutritious foods are made available and affordable to all.

The pandemic has created major global health and economic shocks, with unprecedented impacts on people's health, nutrition and livelihoods. As a result, Africa is experiencing negative economic growth, primarily as a result of the sharp decline in productivity, jobs and revenues. At the same time, recent data shows that Africa has the highest prevalence of malnutrition and may soon overtake Asia as the region with the fastest-growing number of hungry and undernourished people [1]. Nutrition cannot be left behind in the COVID-19 response in Africa.

"As COVID-19 cases rise in Africa, the impact on nutrition and food systems cannot be denied. The threat of this new virus requires us to adopt new ways of looking and overcoming malnutrition," said former President of Ghana John Kufuor, an ALN founding member and Nutrition Champion.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a chance for Africa's leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitization, advocacy and resource mobilization efforts towards securing increased investments in nutrition.

Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery forms part of the African Development Bank's COVID-19 Response Facility to deploy financial and technical measures to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The African Leaders for Nutrition Secretariat is hosted by the Bank to foster opportunities for high-level engagement to drive policy changes in Africa.

Africa's Post-Pandemic Recovery Likely To Be Prolonged & Uneven

Specialist risk consultancy Control Risks and independent global advisory NKC African Economics, the Africa-focused subsidiary of Oxford Economics, have launched the fifth edition of the Africa Risk-Reward Index.

The index offers a comparative snapshot of market opportunities and risks across the continent. It provides a grounded, longer-term outlook of key trends shaping the investment landscape in major African economies, which should inform the strategies of organisations looking to invest in or grow their business in Africa. Investors seeking to minimise risks and maximise rewards are cautioned not to focus on headlines, but rather on specific country, sector and project contexts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly eroded the overall improvement in risk-reward scores seen across the African continent in recent years, but this should not deter investors. Africa's recovery may be prolonged and uneven, but it could also be transformative.

The pandemic's huge economic cost has triggered a universal drop in our reward scores, but the impact on risk scores has been more varied. Ethiopia has seen the largest ratings drops as COVID-19-induced challenges combine with escalating ethnic tensions in the context of a delayed election. 

Egypt's risk score has remained relatively steady, but its reward score has been badly hit by the triple blow of the pandemic, low oil prices and plummeting tourism revenues. Algeria's risk score has improved since the mass protests and landmark elections of 2019, but challenges for its oil-dependent economy have still dragged down its overall score.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis, but Africa's recovery will be slower and more uneven than most," warns Barnaby Fletcher, Associate Director at Control Risks. "However, this recovery will be an opportunity for governments across the continent to address structural constraints and promote new solutions. We are already seeing signs that they are doing so, and for investors this opens up some interesting opportunities."

This 2020 edition of the Africa Risk-Reward Index examines the longer-term implications of COVID-19 on Africa. The first article looks at the longer-term impact of COVID-19 and imagines a post-pandemic landscape, while the second explores the role that African tech can play in revitalising more traditional industries. The last article covers the growing efforts by both external and domestic actors to manipulate the public debate in Africa through influence operations and disinformation campaigns, and the risks these efforts pose to commercial companies.

Post-pandemic: The impact of COVID-19 and outlooks for Africa's recovery

The immediate impact of COVID-19 will see Africa experience its first recession in 25 years, but more worrying is the lack of fiscal headroom available to African governments to engage in stimulus spending. For many countries, economic recovery will have to be driven by their private sectors, which were already weak and have only become weaker during the pandemic.

"The economic impact of COVID-19 will be varied but the recovery will be even more so" says Jacques Nel, Head of Africa Macro at NKC African Economics. "The optimists will hope to see a race to the top as governments undertake desperately needed reforms, while the pessimists will see a continent set back more than a decade. The reality will be somewhere in between, with each country finding a unique spot on this spectrum."

However, there are already indications that the scale of this crisis is prompting some welcome reforms. Faced with a volatile global landscape, African governments have a pressing need to develop downstream manufacturing, regional supply chains and domestic capital markets.

There are also indications that large portions of the workforce are entering the formal economy to access government financial support and cope with pandemic containment measures.

Some of these trends were set in motion before its outbreak, but COVID-19 seems to have accelerated them. Investors who stay with Africa despite the current downturn will not only have an important role to play in its recovery, but will also see some exciting changes and opportunities.

The great enabler: How Africa is using new digital solutions to revitalise old industries

Investment into African tech has reached record levels in recent years. These are likely to fall in 2020, a consequence of both recent high-profile sector struggles and the impact of COVID-19 on external finance. However, any such decline should be viewed as an opportunity to reset expectations and approaches, not as an indication that the affected sectors are becoming less attractive.

COVID-19 has served to emphasise the need for tech and digital solutions across the continent. It has sparked the development of healthcare apps to help fight the pandemic, e-commerce platforms to facilitate life under lockdown, and new payment and microinsurance systems.

Digital and tech is set to play a far greater role in post-pandemic Africa than it ever did before. The wave of informal workers and companies entering the formal economy will need access to basic financial and legal services, which are likely to be provided through online or mobile platforms. Digital solutions may also help facilitate the growing push to build regional supply chains.

Hostile narratives: Reputation and African geopolitics in the age of influence operations

Africa has always struggled to set its own narrative and get past generalisations that cast the entire continent as beyond redemption or the next economic powerhouse. This struggle is becoming more acute as internal and external actors actively push false narratives through influence operations and disinformation campaigns.

Foreign powers engaged in such tactics are motivated the geopolitical competition over Africa, which has steadily intensified over the past decade. African governments are also building their own capacity to mount such campaigns.

Investors should not assume that such activities impact only governments. Foreign investment is frequently the subject of political debate in African countries, and when that debate is distorted by external actors, individual companies face significant reputational risks. Not only that, but disinformation campaigns have been used by militant groups for recruitment and to cause peaceful protests to escalate into violence, posing security threats to commercial operations.

The risk posed by influence operations in Africa should not be overstated, though the trend is growing as social media is adopted more widely across the continent. Just as grasping the political and business landscape can help investors avoid pitfalls and maximise their chances of success, understanding the information landscape – what the narrative is and who is seeking to influence it – will become increasingly important.

Methodology

The Africa Risk-Reward Index is defined by the combination of risk and reward scores, integrating economic and political risk analysis by Control Risks and NKC African Economics, the Africa-focused subsidiary of Oxford Economics.

Risk scores from each country originate from the Economic and Political Risk Evaluator (EPRE), while the reward scores incorporate medium-term economic growth forecasts, economic size, economic structure and demographics.

Specialist risk consultancy Control Risks and independent global advisory NKC African Economics, the Africa-focused subsidiary of Oxford Economics, have launched the fifth edition of the Africa Risk-Reward Index.

The index offers a comparative snapshot of market opportunities and risks across the continent. It provides a grounded, longer-term outlook of key trends shaping the investment landscape in major African economies, which should inform the strategies of organisations looking to invest in or grow their business in Africa. Investors seeking to minimise risks and maximise rewards are cautioned not to focus on headlines, but rather on specific country, sector and project contexts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly eroded the overall improvement in risk-reward scores seen across the African continent in recent years, but this should not deter investors. Africa's recovery may be prolonged and uneven, but it could also be transformative.

The pandemic's huge economic cost has triggered a universal drop in our reward scores, but the impact on risk scores has been more varied. Ethiopia has seen the largest ratings drops as COVID-19-induced challenges combine with escalating ethnic tensions in the context of a delayed election. 

Egypt's risk score has remained relatively steady, but its reward score has been badly hit by the triple blow of the pandemic, low oil prices and plummeting tourism revenues. Algeria's risk score has improved since the mass protests and landmark elections of 2019, but challenges for its oil-dependent economy have still dragged down its overall score.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis, but Africa's recovery will be slower and more uneven than most," warns Barnaby Fletcher, Associate Director at Control Risks. "However, this recovery will be an opportunity for governments across the continent to address structural constraints and promote new solutions. We are already seeing signs that they are doing so, and for investors this opens up some interesting opportunities."

This 2020 edition of the Africa Risk-Reward Index examines the longer-term implications of COVID-19 on Africa. The first article looks at the longer-term impact of COVID-19 and imagines a post-pandemic landscape, while the second explores the role that African tech can play in revitalising more traditional industries. The last article covers the growing efforts by both external and domestic actors to manipulate the public debate in Africa through influence operations and disinformation campaigns, and the risks these efforts pose to commercial companies.

Post-pandemic: The impact of COVID-19 and outlooks for Africa's recovery

The immediate impact of COVID-19 will see Africa experience its first recession in 25 years, but more worrying is the lack of fiscal headroom available to African governments to engage in stimulus spending. For many countries, economic recovery will have to be driven by their private sectors, which were already weak and have only become weaker during the pandemic.

"The economic impact of COVID-19 will be varied but the recovery will be even more so" says Jacques Nel, Head of Africa Macro at NKC African Economics. "The optimists will hope to see a race to the top as governments undertake desperately needed reforms, while the pessimists will see a continent set back more than a decade. The reality will be somewhere in between, with each country finding a unique spot on this spectrum."

However, there are already indications that the scale of this crisis is prompting some welcome reforms. Faced with a volatile global landscape, African governments have a pressing need to develop downstream manufacturing, regional supply chains and domestic capital markets.

There are also indications that large portions of the workforce are entering the formal economy to access government financial support and cope with pandemic containment measures.

Some of these trends were set in motion before its outbreak, but COVID-19 seems to have accelerated them. Investors who stay with Africa despite the current downturn will not only have an important role to play in its recovery, but will also see some exciting changes and opportunities.

The great enabler: How Africa is using new digital solutions to revitalise old industries

Investment into African tech has reached record levels in recent years. These are likely to fall in 2020, a consequence of both recent high-profile sector struggles and the impact of COVID-19 on external finance. However, any such decline should be viewed as an opportunity to reset expectations and approaches, not as an indication that the affected sectors are becoming less attractive.

COVID-19 has served to emphasise the need for tech and digital solutions across the continent. It has sparked the development of healthcare apps to help fight the pandemic, e-commerce platforms to facilitate life under lockdown, and new payment and microinsurance systems.

Digital and tech is set to play a far greater role in post-pandemic Africa than it ever did before. The wave of informal workers and companies entering the formal economy will need access to basic financial and legal services, which are likely to be provided through online or mobile platforms. Digital solutions may also help facilitate the growing push to build regional supply chains.

Hostile narratives: Reputation and African geopolitics in the age of influence operations

Africa has always struggled to set its own narrative and get past generalisations that cast the entire continent as beyond redemption or the next economic powerhouse. This struggle is becoming more acute as internal and external actors actively push false narratives through influence operations and disinformation campaigns.

Foreign powers engaged in such tactics are motivated the geopolitical competition over Africa, which has steadily intensified over the past decade. African governments are also building their own capacity to mount such campaigns.

Investors should not assume that such activities impact only governments. Foreign investment is frequently the subject of political debate in African countries, and when that debate is distorted by external actors, individual companies face significant reputational risks. Not only that, but disinformation campaigns have been used by militant groups for recruitment and to cause peaceful protests to escalate into violence, posing security threats to commercial operations.

The risk posed by influence operations in Africa should not be overstated, though the trend is growing as social media is adopted more widely across the continent. Just as grasping the political and business landscape can help investors avoid pitfalls and maximise their chances of success, understanding the information landscape – what the narrative is and who is seeking to influence it – will become increasingly important.

Methodology

The Africa Risk-Reward Index is defined by the combination of risk and reward scores, integrating economic and political risk analysis by Control Risks and NKC African Economics, the Africa-focused subsidiary of Oxford Economics.

Risk scores from each country originate from the Economic and Political Risk Evaluator (EPRE), while the reward scores incorporate medium-term economic growth forecasts, economic size, economic structure and demographics.

Three Accelerators To Help Health Services Respond Faster To COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world: dominating our mindscape, international discourse, national budgets and overwhelming global health systems. COVID-19 has challenged every industry – especially healthcare – to think differently, rely on data, target action and rapidly trial new models of care and technology in the race to save lives and preserve health.

BroadReach, a group of social impact businesses, hosted an online meeting with industry leaders to explore how data and technology have helped to speed up the time for health services to respond to COVID-19. Through the discussion, three major themes emerged highlighting how technology, data and human action can make a lasting positive impact.

  1.  Access to real-time data is essential

Intervention without real-time data is like driving blind in a storm, a steady flow of information on the cloud enables targeted, intelligent, swift action. For example, the Department of Health in Mpumalanga in South Africa slowed the spread of COVID-19 and were able to direct health resources rapidly using live data to identify potential hotspots and coordinate a response.

The health department focused on presumptive screening results (where someone is presumed to have COVID-19 but has not yet tested positive) and used BroadReach's Vantage cloud platform, with advanced geo-mapping technology, to identify potential clusters or hotspots. They used this 'presumptive approach' as an early warning signal, saving vital time while waiting for positive test results to be confirmed up to two weeks later. This enabled them to ensure facilities in potential hotspot areas were ready to care for patients, identify areas that required field hospitals, customise educational health programmes and direct interventions using data on comorbidities (including HIV, TB and hypertension).

"We used presumptive screening data, collected via a mobile application so that we could ensure the data was available in real-time," explained Bheki Mdlovu, Acting Chief Director: Integrated Health in the Mpumalanga Department of Health in South Africa. "Normally, a test can take between four to 12 days so we used the presumptive suspect data collected during screenings ahead COVID-positive data being available. While we waited for results, we were able to act quickly to deploy resources to affected areas as velocity and agility are very important. By the time the test results were received, we were already working to contain the spread."

  1. Augmented intelligence enables rapid and informed action plans

COVID-19 has forced digital transformation, accelerating how we create, harness and use data, processes and technology. Human intelligence, combined with artificial intelligence (AI), has helped health professionals to make better decisions faster. According to Mohammed Saleh, Health Industry Leader at Microsoft Middle East Africa, "a crisis is an opportunity to reinvent a successful future".

BroadReach's Vantage cloud platform, used by the Department of Health in Mpumalanga, is enabled by AI to help healthcare professionals and other decision-makers upload, access, integrate and analyse data in real-time. Crucially, the population health management system provides prescriptive recommended actions and workflows, which includes data and directions for managing comorbidities, maintaining a healthy workforce, contact tracing, as well as stock and facility management.

  1. Collaboration and leadership is needed to achieve common goals

Dimagi Director of Partnerships in Southern & East Africa, Carlos Yerena, highlighted the importance of healthcare professionals, government departments and corporates working together to overcome the barriers. Dimagi has transferred much of its learning from responding to Ebola to the current situation. "Collaboration is very important and, sometimes, it takes a pandemic for us to really unlock these meaningful collaborations," said Yerena. "In some instances, you would believe they have competing interests but establishing these strategic partnerships really supported governments and partners, and helped them utilise the different platforms in the best interests of a common goal."

Saleh adds that with digital transformation, healthcare can change from a reactive, disconnected and cyclical process to a more intelligent, continuous collaboration process where data is collected from multiple sources then pieced together. Mdlovu concurred, advocating for a connected data approach where the patient has their own personal data, linked to the health provider, health insurer and policymaker to promote a proactive wellness plan.

Chris LeGrand, Group CEO at BroadReach, highlighted the importance of leadership and sustainability through a pandemic. "By harnessing the power of collaboration and leadership in combating this pandemic, we are better placed to extend access to basic healthcare, thus getting closer to the United Nations goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC)  for every human. This could be a positive legacy for COVID-19."

The vital ingredient to pandemic response is leadership. "Ultimately, leaders cause things to happen that would not happen otherwise. For this reason, leadership is essential to drive the wheels of change," concludes LeGrand.

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