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African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity

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African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.

The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.

Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.

The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.

The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”

The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

NLC Alleged That El-Rufai Reverted Minimum Wage to N18,000 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday alleged that the Kaduna State government plans to infiltrate its protest with thugs.

It said it was misled in praising the Nasir El-Rufai administration for being the first to pay the new N30,000 minimum wage.

NLC, in a statement by its Kaduna State Council Chairman, Ayuba Suleiman, said the state had since reverted to the old wage of N18, 000 for council workers. It said 20,000 civil servants have been receiving half salary of less than N18, 000.

The workers union said the state owed its members several allowances. It condemned threats to arrest NLC President Ayuba Wabba.

“We are calling the attention of the general public to the planned mobilisation of thugs by the state government to discredit our peaceful protest. We urge the people of Kaduna State to be vigilant and stand against this plan.

“We implore the general public to remain calm and peaceful throughout the five-day warning strike.

“We are assuring the Kaduna State workers and the general public of our commitment to maintaining peaceful strike action in their interest,” Suleiman said.

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Government

FACAN Seeks Partnership With Lagos on Ranching

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The Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) is seeking partnership with the Lagos State government on the operation of ranches as part of a road map with investment plans that seek to improve animal productivity and production, as well as increase the value addition of key livestock value chains.

Its President, Dr Victor Iyama told the media that the association is examining various aspects of agricultural development such as investment, demand, consumption, gender and social inclusion and is ready to partner with Lagos in driving out livestock-sector investment interventions, to help the state meet its targets by improving productivity and total production in the key livestock value chains of sheep and cow

According to him, the absence of a roadmap to develop the livestock sector had hindered the successful implementation of previous investment plans for the sector.

He said the creation of the master plan would guide livestock-sector investment interventions in improving feed and water resources, health services, industry and factory and promote private sector investment and business environment.

Urging the Lagos government to pursue the establishment of ranches for hire, Iyama reiterated that investors were convinced the efforts would foster public-private partnerships for livestock development.

According to him, private operators will be ready to rent ranches for meat cattle, indicating that the state remains one of the safest places for increasing industries for meat production and milk processing.

Recently, the Lagos State Butchers Association has requested the provision of about 50 hectares of land from the Lagos State Government for ranching and rearing herds of cattle in the state.

Meantime, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Absiola Olusanya, said well over 1.8 million herds of cattle and over 1.4 million herds of sheep and goats, were being consumed in Lagos yearly.

Olusanya called on the private sector to partner with it to establish feedlots in the state for cattle rearing and fattening in furtherance of its reforms and sanitization of the red meat value chain, stressing that partnership becomes necessary as it would ensure better production and supply of cattle for consumption in the state.

According to her, the feedlots when operational would help revive and resuscitate cows that might have travelled from far cities such as Sokoto, Jalingo, Bauchi and Jigawa among others where they may have come to Lagos before slaughtering them.

Olusanya added that the feedlot system would also help in fattening the cows before taking them to the slaughter slabs which would improve the quality of beef as well as help butchers and meat sellers to make more profit. “We have been having discussions around the transformation agenda centred on abattoirs, transportation and markets but there is a revised plan to have a more holistic approach to the red meat value chain.

“We are not just focusing on abattoirs alone which are a processing angle, we are starting right from the animal identification and traceability systems, meaning right from the source or point of origination of the cattle.

“That is why we want to establish feedlots in the state so that we can have cattle fattening centres. Having feedlot centres means that the cattle can rest, they can be fattening.”

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INEC Official Prepares Ahead of Continuous Voter Registration

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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it’s working within its timelines for the nationwide resumption of continuous voter registration (CVR) on June 28.

Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, stated this in an interview with the Newsmen in Abuja on Sunday.

Okoye said that the commission was on course, especially with the development of an online portal to be deployed for the exercise.

“The online registration portal is almost ready and will be rolled out for the continuous voter registration slated to commence on June 28.

“The online portal has been demonstrated and adjustments made. It will have an online locator of registration areas and polling units. The commission is progressing and working within the framework of its timelines,” Okoye said.

Reports state that INEC had fixed June 28 for the resumption of its suspended CVR, with new technology. The commissioner also outlined some critical activities within the timelines, leading to the restarting of the exercise.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had earlier announced that the exercise would continue until the third quarter of 2022.

Yakubu also announced that the commission would replace its Direct Data Capture (DDC) machine, introduced in 2011, for voter registration, with a new technology called INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED).

These, according to him, include expansion of voter access to polling units by May 11, building and testing the online registration portal by May 15 and arrival of the new IVED by May 31.

He listed other activities like recruitment and training of voter enrolment staff, June 14, and restart of CVR, June 28.

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