NEF urges co-funding to support black entrepreneurs across mining value chains
Cape Town: Leading development financier, the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) says the mining sector is critical for economic transformation and growth and has urged the mining sector to “open up opportunities for black entrepreneurs across the industry’s value chains”.
Speaking at the Matchmaking and Technical Networking Session of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, the NEF’s Senior Investment Associate, Ms Palesa Mzolo, said “with close to R200 million invested to date to support black entrepreneurs in mining, the NEF believes more enterprise and supplier development partnerships with medium-sized and established players in the sector, can do more to benefit black women entrepreneurs, township and rural communities as well as black SMEs and potential industrialists”.
She says having established smart partnerships with many measured entities across the economic spectrum, the NEF has gained distinction as a partner trusted by many in delivering unique enterprise and supplier development alliances to build value for SMEs, communities and corporates.
Among the black-owned businesses funded by the NEF in the sector to date are:
NEW ORGAN DONATION SYSTEM TO COME IN ON 20 MAY 2020
From 20 May 2020, Max and Keira’s law will be implemented in England and organ donation will move to a system of deemed consent, otherwise known as ‘opt-out’.
All adults will be presumed as a possible organ donor when they die, unless they have made a decision that they do not want to be a donor or are in an excluded group.
Currently people from a black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds are disproportionately affected – they are more likely to need a transplant and one in five people who died on the organ transplant waiting list last year were BAME.
The new system of consent will help address the shortage of BAME organ donors and help those desperately waiting for a life-saving, or life-enhancing, transplant with organs that are a suitable match.
Donating organs will remain a personal decision. While the new system starts in May, people will continue to be able to record their decision to opt out at any point.
It’s important that everyone takes the time to discuss their choices on donation with their families, whatever their preference may be.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“Too many people lose their lives waiting for an organ, and I’ve been determined to do what I can to boost organ donation rates.
“So I’m incredibly proud of the action we are taking with this new law. This is an important step forward in making organ donation easier and more available to those who need it and could help save hundreds of lives every year.
“I pay tribute to the brave campaigning of families such as Max and Keira’s, whose tireless work on this issue has made a huge difference.”
A wide-ranging public information campaign led by NHSBT is ongoing to make the public aware of the changing law so they know what this means and the choices available to them.
Orin Lewis OBE, ACLT co-founder, and CEO said:
“6,000 people across the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and sadly many will die waiting. It is for this reason, ACLT is thrilled to hear the new opt-out organ donation system will be introduced on the 20th of May 2020.
“Because one in five people who died on the organ transplant waiting list year were from a BAME background, and while we encourage people of all races to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register website, we have a particular focus on engaging with the black community on this subject matter especially when ethnicity matching is so vital as many from this group are disproportionately affected.
“Therefore it is important to understand donating organs will always remain a personal decision, even prior to the new system starting in May.”
Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:
“The incredible gift of organ donation means that one family’s tragedy can bring new hope for another.
“At the moment, the chances of this are lower because of the shortage of available organs and tissues. This new law can help change that, saving many more lives every year.
“I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to have a conversation with their families and friends about their organ donation wishes and register a decision.”
Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:
“We hope that the new law encourages more people to record their donation decision and talk about organ donation with their families. It is important for people to know that they can do this at any time before or after the law comes into effect. There is no deadline for making your donation decision.
“We are encouraged that almost two thirds of people in England are now aware that the law is changing, but we would like this figure to be even higher by the time the law changes. The majority of people tell us that they support organ donation in principle, yet only around 4 in 10 have actually registered their decision.
“For those who have not thought about organ donation before, or who still have questions, we have lots of information available on our website and our team of helpline advisors are available to answer any queries. Organ donation is and always will be a precious gift and if more people are inspired to support and agree to donation, then many more lives can be saved.”
Jacob West, Director of Healthcare Innovation at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“More than 300 people in the UK are waiting for a heart or a heart and lung transplant in the UK, not knowing when or if they will receive their new organ. Max and Keira’s Law is a lifesaving change in legislation that will offer hope to these people and their families.
“With the change in law, there’s no better time to discuss with your loved ones what you want to happen to your organs when you die. It’s not an easy conversation, but it could save somebody’s life.”
Fiona Loud, Policy Director of Kidney Care UK, said:
“People are still dying every single day in need of a transplant and around 80% of those waiting for a transplant are in need of a kidney. We very much welcome the introduction of Max and Keira’s Law on 20 May 2020 – it’s such an important step forward with the potential to transform so many lives.
“Patients have been waiting and hoping for this change, which stands to make a positive contribution to lives and our society, for many years.
“Alongside the commitment to continued public education and support from our NHS. We urge everyone to have a conversation about organ donation so they know what their loved ones decision is.”
We will present to Parliament draft regulations this morning setting out organs and tissues which will not be part of the opt out and the Human Tissue Authority code for healthcare workers. This will ensure that everyone understands the rules and regulations of the new system. Subject to Parliamentary approval, this will be implemented on the 20 May 2020.
The list of organs and tissues which will be excluded from deemed consent have also been laid in parliament following a full 12-week public consultation on the list last year. This is an additional safeguard to ensure that only organs and tissue used for routine transplants are included in the new system, to help those on a waiting list.
The simplest way to record a decision is on the NHS Organ Donor Register website, available at: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/. However, it is also possible to tell a friend or family member or record it in writing.
Here is the main problem with Nigeria’s electricity sector: Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, but it has failed consistently to generate, transmit and distribute enough electricity to power its development process and accelerate economic growth. Between 1999 and 2007, President Olusegun Obasanjo focused on the reform of the electricity sector as one of the major priorities of his administration. Gas-powered plants were set up across the country under his watch, turbines and other equipment were imported. His government laid the foundation for reform in the power sector but could not complete the process, particularly the privatization of the power sector. Obasanjo’s legacy includes the National Electric Power Policy (NEPP) of 2001, the National Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 which established the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and the establishment of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), to replace the notorious National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA). The PHCN was later unbundled into 18 successor companies. By the time President Obasanjo left office in 2007, power generation in the country had increased from about 1, 200 MW in 1999 to 4, 000 MW in 2007. For a country of Nigeria’s size and population, this was not enough to transform the country. Obasanjo was succeeded by President Yar’Adua.
In the course of his campaign for Presidential office, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua stressed the importance of the electricity sector as an engine of growth. He promised to declare a national emergency in the sector. He eventually didn’t declare an emergency but shortly after assuming office in 2007, President Yar’Adua established a Presidential Committee for the accelerated expansion of Nigeria’s power infrastructure with a mandate to ensure the delivery of 6, 000 additional megawatts within 18 months and an extra 11, 000 MW by 2011. By the time President Yar’Adua gave this directive, Nigeria’s power generation capacity was down to 3,000 MW per day. South Africa with a much smaller population was at the time generating 36, 000 MW. Egypt with a population of 78 million also had a generating capacity of 36, 000 MW. The Yar’Adua Committee which was given 18 days to do its work, submitted its report one year later!
The House of Representatives also conducted a probe of the electricity sector. The House Committee on Power led by Hon. Ndudi Elumelu accused the Obasanjo administration of having spent over $10 billion on the electricity sector without having much to show for it. The Committee disclosed that between 2000 and 2007, the Obasanjo administration spent over $10 billion on various projects in the power sector. The Elumelu Committee raised questions and demanded answers. The Presidential Committee meanwhile recommended that the country would still need about $85 billion to meet the target of 20, 000 MW generating capacity as recommended by the Vision 2020 Committee. President Yar’Adua in the course of it all, ordered a probe of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). The Chairman of the NERC and six commissioners of the agency were suspended from office and invited for questioning.
President Yar’Adua’s government soon entered into discussions with General Electric (GE) and later signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the German Government on power development projects in Nigeria. Siemens was one of the six German companies included in that MOU. The Government also launched a Gas Master Plan to address the problem of gas supply to the Papalanto, Omotosho and Geregu power plants built by the Obasanjo government. Contracts worth over $660 million were awarded, but despite all its good intentions, the Yar’Adua government could not make much difference. Power supply remained epileptic in Nigeria. There are many who believe that the efforts of the Yar’Adua administration were abbreviated by a lack of urgency occasioned by the President’s health challenges and the obsession of that administration with the past administration’s expenditure in the power sector. It was so bad that power equipment worth $5 billion that had been imported in 2, 500 (or 800?) containers by the Obasanjo administration, which arrived three days after President Obasanjo left office were abandoned at the ports for three years. Taxpayers incurred a demurrage of N4 billion!
President Yar’Adua was succeeded by Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. As former Chairman of the National Economic Council and former Chair of the National Council on Privatization, Jonathan was certainly privy to the Electricity Sector Road Map and the Power Sector Master Plan. He continued where his boss former boss stopped, but even more so, from where Obasanjo stopped, and by avoiding the ugly politics and blame game that had developed around the subject of electricity delivery in Nigeria, he was able to make significant process in the areas of accelerated reform, policy execution, provision of power sector infrastructure, public-private sector partnership and privatization.
President Jonathan had threatened, right from his early days in power that he would privatize the PHCN, and reform the electricity sector. In due course, he launched a Power Sector Transformation Plan and gave full effect to the Nigeria Electricity Sector Regulatory Act of 2005. He commissioned and upgraded a number of power plans including the Azura-Edo power plant, the first fully privately owned Independent Power Plant in Nigeria. He re-organized the PHCN by selling off the Federal Government’s majority stakes in the 18 companies unbundled from PHCN in the shape of six Generation Companies (GENCOS), 11 Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and a Transmission Company owned fully by the Nigerian government. Private sector investors in the GENCOs and DISCOs paid as much as $3.3 billion for the acquired PHCN assets in what was considered an open and fair process even by international observers. Nigerian banks supported the process, investments were also attracted to the gas sector. By 2013, the power sector had resurrected with installed generation capacity at about 12. 910 MW, but available capacity nevertheless remained at less than 7. 652 MW. Transmission capacity was 8, 1000 MW while a distribution peak of 5, 375 MW was recorded. Thus, the problem of low capacity utilization persisted.
President Goodluck Jonathan handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. Like other Presidents before him since 1999, President Buhari even as a candidate promised to transform Nigeria’s power sector. In the run up to the 2015 elections, President Buhari in a document titled “Covenant with Nigerians” and also in the “APC Manifesto”, promised that “The APC government shall vigorously pursue the expansion of electricity generation and distribution of up to 40, 000 MW in 4 to 8 years.” The promised figure was twice the Vision 2020 Committee projection of 20, 000 MW by 2020. The reality is that the Buhari administration has not been able to deliver on that promise. In 2017, former Minister of Power, Housing and Works, Babatunde Fashola claimed that the government had achieved a record 5, 074 MW in actual power generation. From 2015 to date, President Buhari has continued to give assurances that his administration will sort out the electricity sector crisis.
The administration has reportedly spent more than N900 billion on the power sector as intervention fund. It has signed a six-year contract with Siemens of Germany for an upgrade and technical input across the value chain to generate up to 25, 000 MW in three phases. The Buhari administration accuses previous administrations – Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s of wasting Nigerian resources on the power sector without results and the Jonathan administration of mismanaging the privatization process. It is alleged that over $6.8 trillion has been spent on Nigeria’s power sector since 1999. Meanwhile, the country remains literally in darkness. Many companies have had to relocate from Nigeria. Businesses, homes and families are compelled to provide their own electricity. The cost of diesel is high. Many lives have been lost to generator explosions. There are communities in Nigeria that have not seen electricity for seven years, simply because they are not connected to the national grid! The House of Representatives has asked President Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the electricity sector. The standard response has been to blame either the former ruling party, the PDP (1999- 2015) or the Jonathan privatization process or more specifically, the power distribution companies. In 2017, the Buhari government mooted the idea of probing the power sector from 1999- 2015.
Needless politicking, sentiments and emotions have proven to be the bane of the electricity sector in Nigeria. Every Minister of Power since 1999 has always been ready with an excuse for inefficiency. Babatunde Fashola, as Buhari’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing heaped the blame on the privatization process. Buhari’s NERC blames the DISCOs and even threatened to revoke their licences. This blame game continued last week with Fashola’s successor as Minister of Power, Engr. Saleh Mamman threatening that the DISCOs are the problem of the electricity value-chain and if they do not sit up, their licences will be revoked. He says he has even sent a memo to the Federal Executive Council to that effect. The FEC should ignore his memo. Mamman doesn’t sound like he knows what he is talking about. Ignorance is bad in itself, but the kind of tripodal ignorance that has been demonstrated by the current Minister of Power is curious!
It seems to me that government needs to go beyond scapegoating, passing the buck, sentiments and politics, to address fundamental problems of the electricity sector, and cross-cutting issues in the entire value chain. There are consequential steps that should have been taken after the privatization exercise of 2013/2014 to deepen the transition process away from PHCN which the current administration has conveniently ignored. This is in part responsible for the distortions within the entire value chain. If the Minister of Power does not know what these are, he should consult the Bureau for Public Enterprises, the National Electricity Regulatory Commission and the Vice President’s Office which oversees the National Council on Privatization. If he does not trust anyone in those departments, let him talk to Nasir el-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State who as Director General of BPE, at the time of the commencement of reforms in that sector can tell the story much better – that is, if he doesn’t choose to play convenient politics.
If el-Rufai plays politics with the matter, let him talk to Dr. Lanre Babalola and Bola Onagoruwa. For example, the Gas Production and supplies to the various Power Plants are still largely dependent on NGC/NNPC which are government-controlled and as usual cannot respond to the 24 hours need of the privatised power generating plants. Unfortunately, in the last 5 years, this critical component of the value chain of power generation has not been resolved by President Buhari’s Government. Gas Production and supplies is yet to be privatised and NNPC/FGN remain the major bureaucratic problem for the gas-based electricity generating investors. Even the gas price in USD has not been allowed to be translated into appropriate naira tariff for the entire value chain of electricity supplies.
Recently we read in the media, that the Federal Government has granted sovereign guarantee to NNPC to build gas pipeline from Ajaokuta to Kano (AKK) for $2.8 billion, with about two captive gas-powered generating plants along the gas pipeline. But any discerning observer of the industry will ask whether this AKK should be a priority now, when you can deploy the $2.8 billion to solve the immediate problems of the stranded 10 gas-powered generating plants in the hands of NIPP/Niger Delta Power Holding Company. It is certain that this $2.8 Billion project will not be completed in the next 3-4 years and may never get sufficient gas to reach Abuja or Kano, when even Kaduna refinery built since 1989 with Crude Pipeline from Escravos has never gotten enough to refine Nigeria’s export crude on a daily basis. These are the issues each of the Ministers has refused to look into, focussing instead on chasing the DISCOS as the weeping child.
Is Minister Mamman aware at all of the existence of 10 power plants that are being managed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company that is managed by public officers? The Minister of Power was quoted as saying Nigeria now has a generating capacity of 13, 000 MW in 2020. In 2013, Nigeria had a generating capacity of 12, 910 MW. What has been added since 2015? Even if 7000 MW is produced today, can TCN with its 330KVA/132KVA transmit that much to all the DISCOS? The answer is capital NO. The Minister pretends not to know that TCN is the weakest link between the GENCOs and DISCOs. The Minister should show us how much has gone into 330KVA/132KVA in the last 5 years across Nigeria.
The Federal Government could have sold ten more power plants to increase capacity. It has not done so. Even then, the so-called claim of 13, 000 MW is at best academic and fictitious. Minister Mamman claims that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has a capacity to transmit 7, 000 MW but it actually transmits about 5, 000 MW out of which the DISCOs can only take about 3, 000MW. There is shortage of electricity in the country and so, high demand for limited supply has driven up prices and yet government is insisting on the withdrawal of subsidy and a hike in electricity tariffs by April 1. I don’t get it. No wonder all the private sectors, industrial and commercial houses generate electricity at about 70-85 Naira per kilowatt hour for themselves, but this has disenabled them from competing with other manufacturers around the world. This is one of the major reasons that the private sector must be allowed to take over the entire value chain of the electricity industry. Since 2015 that Yola DISCO has been returned to the Federal Government, it will interest the general public to hear from the Minister, how much investment in 132KVA, 33KVA and 11KVA infrastructure has been provided in the entire North East that Yola DISCO covers.
The Buhari government simply needs to move beyond politics and sentiments. If President Buhari succeeds in solving the electricity supply conundrum in Nigeria, that alone will be enough legacy for his administration. He should listen only to those who know. Engr. Saleh Mamman has absolutely no clue. I hope the Minister knows he is a member of the National Council on Privatisation and therefore cannot take any policy decision without NCP approval first.
Novartis and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to collaborate on the development of a new oral drug to treat Visceral Leishmaniasis
Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar, is the most serious form of leishmaniasis, causing fever, weight loss, spleen and liver enlargement, and if left untreated, death
BASEL, Switzerland, February 25, 2020/ — LXE408 is a first-in-class compound, discovered at Novartis (https://www.Novartis.com/) with financial support from the Wellcome Trust; Novartis is responsible for completing Phase I clinical trials and has committed to maximizing access in endemic countries, once approved; DNDi (https://www.DNDi.org/) will lead Phase II and III clinical development, starting in India with additional trials planned in East Africa; Leishmaniasis, which is transmitted by the sand fly, affects over one billion people; visceral leishmaniasis, the most serious form of the disease, affects an estimated 50 000 to 90 000 people per year.
Novartis and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization, have signed a collaboration and licence agreement to jointly develop LXE408, as a potential new oral treatment for visceral leishmaniasis, one of the world’s leading parasitic killers.
LXE408 is a first-in-class compound, discovered at Novartis with financial support from the Wellcome Trust. Within the scope of the agreement, Novartis is responsible for completing Phase I clinical trials. In addition, it will drive pharmaceutical development and regulatory submissions. Upon approval, Novartis has committed to distributing the drug on an affordable basis worldwide with a focus on maximizing access in endemic countries.
DNDi will lead Phase II and Phase III clinical development, with the first Phase II study scheduled to start in early 2021 in India. Additional trials are planned to take place in East Africa, which has the highest burden of visceral leishmaniasis.
“Existing treatments for visceral leishmaniasis are simply not good enough. They are too long, increasingly ineffective, and can be toxic, painful, and costly,” said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “Our hope is to radically transform this by developing new oral drugs that are affordable, safe, effective, easy to take, and can also be adapted to meet the treatment needs of patients in different countries.”
Over one billion people worldwide are at risk of leishmaniasis, which is transmitted by the bite of a sand fly. Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar, is the most serious form of leishmaniasis, causing fever, weight loss, spleen and liver enlargement, and if left untreated, death. There are an estimated 50 000 to 90 000 new cases per year. Treating the disease is complex as it is dependent on the species of infecting parasite and the country, as treatment responses differ from region to region.
“Novartis has a long-term commitment to neglected tropical diseases that spans several decades. Diseases caused by kinetoplastid parasites, such as leishmaniasis, are one of our strategic research priorities and, together with our partners, we have developed a promising portfolio of drug candidates,” said Dr Lutz Hegemann, Chief Operating Officer for Global Health at Novartis. “We are excited to collaborate with DNDi to reimagine treatment options for people with leishmaniasis around the world.”
The collaboration between DNDi and Novartis is aligned with a broader program with Wellcome and other partners to develop new combinations of entirely new, all-orally acting chemical entities, to treat visceral leishmaniasis and cutaneous leishmaniasis, another form of the disease.
The program brings together a strong consortium of R&D partners, including the University of Dundee, GSK, Pfizer, TB Alliance, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. These partners have built a portfolio of lead series, pre-clinical and clinical drug candidates, originating from different chemical classes with different mechanisms of action against leishmania parasites.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Novartis from drug development to delivering a promising new oral treatment for visceral leishmaniasis. Together, we can contribute to sustaining elimination efforts in India and altering the treatment landscape in East Africa,” said Dr Fabiana Alves, Head of Visceral Leishmaniasis Clinical Program at DNDi.
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