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Landmark report highlights untapped potential of Africa’s film industry – The Maravi Post

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The African Film Industry: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities for Growth is the first-ever mapping of the sector, which currently employs some five million people and accounts for $5 billion in GDP across Africa.

Making creativity viable

Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General, presented the report in Paris alongside esteemed filmmakers Abderrahmane Sissako and Mati Diop.

“This landmark publication reflects on the importance of strengthening international cooperation to enable all countries, in particular developing countries, to develop cultural and creative industries that are viable and competitive both nationally and internationally,” she said.

The report aims to help the African film industry, and decision-makers, to take stock of the current landscape and plan strategically for future growth.

Africa’s potential as a film powerhouse remains largely untapped, despite a significant growth in production across the continent, the report argues. Nigeria alone produces around 2,500 films a year.

Even though affordable digital film equipment and online platforms allow direct distribution to consumers, opening new avenues for content creators, Africa is the most underserved continent in terms of movie theatres.  Currently, there is only one cinema screen per 787,402 people.

Lights, camera, piracy

The film industry also faces the significant problem of piracy.  The UNESCO report estimates that 50 per cent to over 75 per cent of revenue is lost to piracy, though precise data does not exist.  Additionally, just 19 out of 54 African countries offer financial support to filmmakers.

The report outlines further challenges, including limitations on freedom of expression, as well as education, training and internet connectivity.

Films as ‘public goods’

This year marks two decades since the adoption of a UNESCO Declaration that upholds cultural diversity as being as necessary to humanity as biodiversity is to nature.

Ms. Azoulay said in commemorating the anniversary, “we must raise our voice to reaffirm that films are indeed ‘public goods’ that require public support and investment to ensure equal access to creation, production, distribution, dissemination and consumption.” 

Sourced from United Nations Africa Pages

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Municipal Payments Essential for South Africa’s Future Cities – The Maravi Post

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The urban population in Africa has swelled from 15% of the total population in 1960, to over 40% in 2010 and is set to exceed 60% by 2050.

It is anticipated that South Africa will follow suit. In fact, current projections indicate that an additional 19 to 24 million people will be added to the national population over the next three decades, and that the vast majority of this growth will be confined to cities and towns.

But what is needed by the country’s municipalities to cope with and cater for this growth?

“Municipal payments play a vital role in creating cities of the future,” says Nomvula Nyandeni, Business Development Lead at Pay@, one of Southern Africa’s leading payment solutions providers.

“Municipal revenue collected from customers is integral to sustain cities financially and, most importantly, to ensure that service delivery takes place. This will leave a lasting legacy for generations to come,” explains Peet du Plessis, Head of the Revenue Management Unit at the eThekwini Municipality.

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Tsaone Ocilia Sekgala, Deputy Director: Budget & Treasury at the City of Matlosana, adds that this enables the municipality to render quality and sustainable services.

“The revenue collected is invested in community infrastructure such as stadiums, sanitation, roads, and community halls; as well as in the maintenance of existing infrastructure to avoid dilapidation.

This ensures a well-serviced town which in turn will attract Investors. It also goes towards local economic development and growth.”

Nyandeni notes that there are certain municipalities which are in debt due to non-payment by citizens. “This can be attributed to a number of reasons including affordability, lack of service delivery, citizens’ lack of knowledge of outstanding balances, and municipalities billing customers incorrectly.

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Consequently, service providers like Eskom have been forced to shut off power to these municipalities, highlighting just how crucial these payments are for our cities.”

On the issue of incorrect billing, she shares that having proper billing systems in place is essential if we are to take our cities into the future. “These systems need to eliminate unallocated payments and generate daily reports to reconcile customer balances.”

Nyandeni believes that, when it comes to collecting revenues, municipalities also need to make it easier for citizens to make payments as this might be yet another cause of non-payment.

“Municipal offices are typically only open during the week and for a limited time at that, meaning that customers have to take off work and travel to these offices if they want to make a cash payment. More payment options are crucial, especially for those who are unbanked – which is about 23.5% of the population.

Municipalities have to meet people where they are and we have seen significant value in giving them the option to pay in-person at their nearest retailer or by using digital channels such as mobile apps like Masterpass and MTN MoMo for example. Providing citizens with the most optimal bill presentment medium is also important for collection effectiveness.

For instance, this could be by posting hardcopies, emailing invoices with barcodes and QR codes, displaying bills on a municipality’s website and other digital channels, or by sending payment requests through mediums such as SMS and USSD.”

She concludes by saying: “With our cities getting bigger and bigger, it is vital that municipalities get their payments right sooner rather than later.

This is all the more pressing given that several smart cities are being planned for South Africa, including the Lanseria Smart City and Mooikloof Mega-City developments in Gauteng, as well as the Durban Aerotropolis in KwaZulu-Natal.

These cities aim to be safer, greener, healthier and more connected and that might impact what people pay their municipalities for in the future, as well as how they pay.”

Chatbots: The solution to SA’s service delivery woes?

Source: Africa Feeds

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South Africa rejects Russian-made coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V – The Maravi Post

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The South African drug regulator has rejected the Russian-made coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, citing some safety concerns the manufacturer wasn’t able to answer.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, or SAHPRA, said in a statement Tuesday that the request for Sputnik V to be authorized could “not be approved at this time,” referring to past failed HIV vaccines that used a similar technology. But the regulator added that its review process was continuing and that it was still open to receiving any further safety data from the Russian manufacturer.

A late-stage study published in the journal Lancet last year in more than 20,000 participants found that Sputnik V was safe and about 91% effective in preventing people from becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

Sputnik V uses two types of harmless viruses known as adenoviruses to carry the spike protein into the body, which then primes the immune system to produce antibodies against COVID-19. SAHPRA said concerns have been raised about the safety of Adenovirus Type 5, which is used in one of the Sputnik V doses. The other dose contains Adenovirus Type 26, which is also used by Johnson & Johnson.

South African officials pointed to two failed research studies testing an HIV vaccine also using Adenovirus Type 5, which found men who were vaccinated had a higher risk of being infected with HIV. The regulators said they had asked the Russian makers of Sputnik V to provide da-ta proving the vaccine’s safety in a country with high rates of HIV but that “the applicant was not able to adequately address (their) request.”

In a statement, the Gamaleya Center, Sputnik V’s manufacturer, called the concerns about the vaccine’s vector “completely unfounded.” It said speculation about the link between Adenovirus Type 5 and HIV transmission in high-risk populations was based on “small-scale inconclusive studies among volunteers with highly probable risky behavior.” It noted that the same vector was used in China’s CanSino vaccine, which has been widely used in China.

Dr. Julian Tang, a virologist at Britain’s University of Leicester, was perplexed by the South African decision to reject Sputnik V.

“It’s a strange connection to make,” he said, explaining that while past concerns have been raised about using the particular virus vector in Sputnik V, much remains uncertain. “It’s not the vector that caused HIV so you can’t just blame it on that,” Tang said.

The vaccine made by AstraZeneca uses a related chimpanzee adenovirus; both it and the Johnson & Johnson shot have been approved in South Africa.

Amid widespread vaccine hesitancy in Russia, authorities have struggled to convince people to get vaccinated and the immunization rate in the country has remained stubbornly low, at about 32%, despite availability of Sputnik V.

Sputnik V is currently also being considered for authorization by the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency. The shot has been given the green light in more than 70 countries. To date no significant safety problems have been identified.

Source: Africanews

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UN’s top envoy warns Great Lakes Region is ‘at a crossroads’  – The Maravi Post

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For Mr. Xia, the main threat to peace and stability in this region around the Great Rift Valley, remains the persistence of non-State armed groups. 

He pointed to “an upsurge in attacks”, whether by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or those launched by the RED-Tabara against Bujumbura airport, in Burundi, last September. 

Since the beginning of this year, in DRC alone, at least 1,043 civilians have been killed, including 233 women and 52 children. 

Peacekeepers from MINUSCA’s Burundian contingent on patrol in Bokengue.

“This violence continues to have serious consequences on the already fragile humanitarian situation, as well as on the socio-economic stability of the affected area”, the Special Envoy said.  

He told the Council Members that “these negative forces also remain involved in the illicit exploitation and trade in natural resources, the revenues of which finance their arms procurement and recruitment.” 

Solutions 

“How to put an end to it?”, he asked. “This is obviously an old question that haunts anyone interested in the region.” 

Despite the challenges, he highlighted several bilateral and regional initiatives, saying they “attest to the emergence of a community aware of the added value of dialogue and cooperation.” 

He also noted the overall peaceful transfers of power in the DRC and Burundi, as well as the signing and implementation of peace agreements in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Sudan.  

For him, more than ever, “it is necessary to sustainably consolidate these achievements while firmly addressing the challenges that persist.” 

“The success of such an approach requires learning from the lessons of the past and showing imagination to support the people of the Great Lakes region in building a better present and future”, he added. 

Turning to COVID-19, he said the pandemic has exacerbated vulnerabilities, but also demonstrated the resilience of the region.  

Before the pandemic, 15 million people across the Great Lakes were already displaced from their homes, facing rising malnutrition and food insecurity.  

Mr. Xia also reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for greater solidarity to facilitate access to vaccines and to strengthen health systems.  

The success of such an approach requires learning from the lessons of the past and showing imagination to support the people of the Great Lakes region

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), to date, only 36 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in a region of nearly 450 million people. 

UN presence 

Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, also briefed Council Members. 

Ms. Pobee informed that the UN is reconfiguring its presence in the region to best address the challenges, highlighting a few areas where the Council’s support is most needed.   

For her, the situation requires “a comprehensive approach rooted in enhanced political engagement, encompassing military and non-military interventions, fostering economic cooperation across the borders and building trust between neighbours and among communities.” 

She also argued that “armed group activity is a symptom of insecurity in the region”, and therefore “the enabling conditions should be addressed upstream.” 

Among those main root causes, she pointed out the illegal exploitation and regional trafficking of natural resources, saying it contributes to the financing of armed group networks but also “creates parallel economy at the expense of States’ budgets whose revenues continue to diminish.” 

The Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), João Caholo, and a civil society representative also briefed the Council. 

Sourced from United Nations Africa Pages

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