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New Africa’s Sustainable Development report urges improved planning to leverage potential of urbanization and address attendant environmental challenges



The latest report on Africa’s sustainable development urges governments to strengthen their urban planning capacities to manage the potential of the region’s ever-expanding cities and address environmental challenges including climate change, droughts and floods.

The 2018 Africa Sustainable Development Report titled “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient continent” was launched on Tuesday 4 December during a special event held at the 13th Africa Economic Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

In one of its key findings, the report indicates that the proportion of Africans (excluding North African) with access to safe water was 23.7 percent, barely one third of the global average of 71 per cent, which is generally low by global standards and characterized by wide disparities between and within countries.

The 2018 ASDR finds that access to electricity in Africa is increasing, albeit at a pace lower than the population growth, and that the continent’s abundant renewable energy potential remains largely untapped.

Africa is the fastest urbanizing region globally, but the potential benefits are not yet fully exploited; Efficiency in energy use is improving but reliance on biomass poses a challenge to progress. Africa outperforms most of the world’s regions in the conservation and sustainable use of its mountain resources.

The report finds that countries such as Kenya, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia, which rank high on science and innovation in Africa, invest a relatively higher share of their GDP in research and development than their peers and provide higher incentives for the private sector to carry out research than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

The report is a joint annual publication of the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme – Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP-RBA).

Speaking on behalf of the various organizations that co-authored the report, various distinguished panellists present at the launch made the following comments.

Victor Harison, AUC Commissioner for Economic Affairs: “There is an urgent need to sustainably manage Africa’s diverse natural resources, including land and water for agriculture, forests, minerals, oil and gas.”

Chidozie Emenuga, Divisional Manger, African Development Institute of the African Development Bank: “This definitive report clearly documents the extant trends, opportunities and challenges facing the continent as it marches towards attainment of its development goals. The Bank’s input in the report aligns with our role as a knowledge partner, fostering the development of our regional member states.”

Adam Elhiraika, ECA Director of the Macroeconomics and Governance Division: “Africa has made progress in the six areas targeted by the report though much more still needs to be done. The report is crucial as it points us in the right direction as we seek to accelerate progress on the SDGs to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all by 2030.”

Ayodele Odusola, UNDP Africa Chief Economist and Head of Strategy and Analysis said: “Robust innovation systems that drive urbanization and sanitation require a sound infrastructure that connects the science community and researchers to the private sector and the government. This in turn is vital for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063.”

This year, the report cast its focus on five of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation; SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy; SGD 11 – Sustainable cities and communities; SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production; and SDG 15 – Life on Land; and the related objectives contained in Agenda 2063, the African Union’s development framework. The 2018 ASDR also includes a chapter on the role of Science, Technology and Innovation as an important means of implementing Goal 17: Partnership for the goals.

The annual Africa Sustainable Development Report is the only publication that simultaneously tracks the continent’s performance on both agendas using the Continental Results Framework endorsed by the African Union Heads of State and Government.

African Development Bank


Merck Foundation CEO together with The First Lady of Central African Republic meets 100 infertile women




Merck Foundation awards the First Lady of Central African Republic to acknowledge her efforts to empower infertile women as ambassador for Merck More than a Mother

BANGUI, Central African Republic, December 5, 2018. Merck Foundation ( underscored their partnership with the First Lady and ministry of Health of Central African Republic – C.A.R.; Merck Foundation awards the First Lady of Central African Republic to acknowledge her efforts to empower infertile women as ambassador for Merck More than a Mother.

Merck Foundation CEO, Dr. Rasha Kelej together with H.E. MADAM BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic – C.A.R. & Merck more than a Mother Ambassador, conducted a special meeting with more than 100 infertile women who have been enrolled in the “Empowering Berna” to establish small businesses for them.  

“Empowering Berna” is special project part of Merck more than a Mother campaign initiated by Merck Foundation for underprivileged infertile women who can no longer be treated, to establish small businesses and train them to be able to generate steady monthly income.

H.E. MADAM BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic & Merck more than a Mother Ambassador emphasized “It is great initiative by Merck Foundation to empower our women by improving their access to information, knowledge and through capacity building to start their own business. Thus, they will be independent and lead a respectable life. This way they can comprehend their rights, roles and responsibilities and be more than mothers.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President Merck More than A Mother emphasized, “It is very important to empower infertile women by providing treatment so they can bear children as part of their human rights. Butfor those who cannot be treated anymore, our initiative ‘Empowering Berna’ will help to train them to establish their own small business so that they can be independent and re-build their own lives. We truly believe that a woman is a lot more than just a mother. We should also encourage men to speak up about their infertility and support their wives. We will also help young couple to find proper access to fertility care by providing training to fertility specialists as we did for oncologists and diabetes specialists. Our vision is to establish a strong platform of health specialists in the country and the rest of Africa”.

Merck Foundation also underscored their commitment to build healthcare capacity in the country. During the committee meeting, many new programs were finalized and launched in partnership with the Ministry of Health of C.A.R.

Merck foundation acknowledged and awarded the First Lady of Central African Republic for her efforts as “Merck more than a Mother” Ambassador in Central African Republic.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President Merck More than A Mother, together with H.E. MADAM BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic & Merck more than a Mother Ambassador pledged to support more childless women through Merck more than a Mother campaign. In partnership with the First Lady and ministry of health, Merck foundation will also provide clinical training on fertility specialty to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.

Merck Foundation has discussed with the H.E. President of Central African RepublicH.E. FAUSTIN-ARCHANGE TOUADÉRA, their long term partnership to build healthcare capacity in the country which he strongly endorsed and supported.

Merck Foundation also approved a list of candidates to be enrolled in their one and two year oncology fellowship program as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country. Moreover, they will also provide on-line diabetes diplomas in French for Doctors from C.A.R as well as cardiovascular preventive medicines fellowship in Asia.


About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.   Please go to  to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.

About Merck:
Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 53,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2017, Merck generated sales of € 15.3 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma

SOURCE: Merck Foundation

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Junior Achievement Nigeria Is Going Digital!




Junior Achievement Nigeria Executive Director, Simi Nwogugu


Dear Friends,

November has been such a rollercoaster month! We were so thrilled to find out on November 5 that we had been selected as one of twelve finalists for the Google Impact Challenge — out of 5,000 applications!!! We spent the majority of the month canvassing for votes and it really brought home to us how wide our network is — from the alumni who kept sharing on their social media platforms to our teachers, volunteers, Board Members and partners who kept circulating the link on WhatsApp! In fact, I walked into a potential donor’s office ready to introduce JAN only for her to tell me she had received WhatsApp messages from at least six sources (none of whom were connected) telling her to vote for JAN! WOW!!!

Thank you so much for your votes, shares, prayers, and encouragement! Though we did not win the People’s Choice Award, we walked away with $125,000 that will go a LONG way towards expanding our Company Program to more people through digital channels.  THANK YOU!!! And thank you so much for dedicating two million dollars ($2,000,000!!!) to enabling 12 non-profits in Nigeria to improve their communities!

As the year draws to a close, our participation in the Google Challenge enabled us to recognize some things: we are really blessed with an awesome network of friends and I’m really blessed with a dedicated team of soldiers! The staff at JAN in every location worked hard to make this grant a reality and the fact that we scaled through many hoops to get to finalist is a testament to the validity of the work we do in Nigeria.  Thank you to every member of the JAN team from senior managers to the newest interns who all worked together to show the world how important our work is.  Thanks to them (and you!), we can now make our digital transformation strategy a reality!

Speaking of digital transformation, part of the anxiety around doing more programs on digital platforms has been the risk of exposing our young students to the dangers of the Internet, so when Facebook approached us about partnering with them to conduct an online safety training for our students, we jumped at the chance!!! SafeOnline, a series of classroom sessions on online safety conducted in partnership with Facebook and CCHub, kicked off this month in Lagos, Abuja, and Ibadan with plans to expand to all our cities in January.  We believe in partnerships and this was another special one because (again!) it involves a JAN alum at CCHub partnering with us to coordinate the project.

And speaking of special projects, a VERY special project drew to a close with a VERY special graduation ceremony! When our Board Members decided it was time for JAN to contribute towards efforts to rehabilitate internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Northeast, we weren’t really sure what that would mean but we took on the challenge.  Now over a year later, thanks to a $150,000 grant from Citi Foundation, we are so proud of the 240 youth in the Bakassi IDP Camp who participated in our ITS TYME entrepreneurial training program because they not only attended all sessions but through their businesses (varying widely from fashion design to leather goods making to farming) have demonstrated true understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

Our judges were so impressed by the businesses exhibited at the ITS TYME business plan competition that took place in Maiduguri this week that they felt compelled to give more than the top three businesses prize money and ended up sharing prize money among another seven teams beyond the top three to arrive at a top 10!!!! We are confident that with these brand new entrepreneurs, Borno is on its way to being restored to its former glory as a prime trading area for Nigeria and its Northeastern neighbors. I’m very grateful to NEEM Foundation for partnering with us to make this project a roaring success!

As I said, it has been a rollercoaster month, but we have enjoyed every minute of the ride and look forward to partnering with you to do more for our youth!

JA Nigeria

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287 Girls Graduate from Childhood to Womanhood without ‘The Cut’




It is ‘cutting season.’

A few years ago at this time of the year, thousands of girls in Rombo Ward, Oloitokitok, Kajiado County would face the circumciser’s knife.

Today, communities in Oloitokitok are slowly embracing Alternative Rite of Passage (ARP) for girls, a ceremony that replaces and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and girls transition into womanhood without being circumcised.

After finishing a three-day ARP training programme where they were taught about reproductive health, child rights, harmful and good cultural practises among the Maasai community, 287 girls between the ages nine and 16 years proudly graduated at Olmapinu Primary School in Rombo Village on Saturday, December 1.

The elders who are custodians of culture and traditions blessed the girls and declared their commitment to protect them against the deeply rooted harmful cultural practise.

Sixty year old Chief Moran Martine Leshinka who heads Rombo village elders is a dedicated elder whose mission is to convince all Maasai elders to advocate against FGM/C.

“Given how some elders still believe in FGM/C, it has been hard to convince some of them to stop the practise. However, we have come a long way. Today, a number of elders have changed their minds and are now against FGM. As elders, we have set our own target to end FGM in our community by 2020,” said Mr Leshinka.

The young Maasai men (Morans) who marry the circumcised girls were also at the ceremony to publicly vow to support girls against FGM in the community. They pledged to stop FGM, protect young girls who are at risk of going through the harmful practise and not refuse to marry the uncut girls.

On the day of her graduation, 14 year old Damaris Siyangoi, a class seven pupil at Soit Primary school says she is excited and happy to be a woman without the cut. She has two sisters who were all circumcised and married off immediately. They were not lucky to finish school.

Damaris said the series of ARP trainings she has participated in since the age of nine years have helped her understand her rights and why FGM/C is dangerous.

“I warned my parents not to plan any FGM/C ceremony for me because I could report them to the chief. My bravery made them respect my decision. I have no fear to tell my friends who are at risk of going through the cut that it is their right to refuse the harmful tradition.”

Addressing the crowd as Miss ARP Rombo 2018, Naomi Ndaine, a form two student at Rombo girls said,

“I feel empowered to confidently raise awareness and educate people about the real dangers of FGM in my community.”

The ARP ceremony was organised by Enduet Women group with support from Amref Health Africa in Kenya through the Alternative Rite of Passage and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (ARPWASH) project, Child Fund, the Anti-FGM board and the County Government of Kajiado. The group led by its Chairlady Mrs Anastacia Mashindana is a community-based organisation in Rombo that works to eradicate FGM, fight for the rights of children and an end to child marriages.

The colourful event was attended by the Director of Amref Health Africa in Germany, the First Lady of Kajiado County, Amref Health Africa in Kenya ARP/WASH project Manager Mr Lugayo Denge and various county and community leaders. The event also saw the participation of the wider population, Chiefs , leaders of the nyumba kumi and elders.

About Amref’s ARPWASH project:

ARPWASH project is a three-year project designed to improve Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Rights (SRHR) among adolescent girls and women of reproductive age in Kajiado County through integrated ARP and WASH interventions.

The project integrates ARP and WASH by addressing WASH as a priority and entry point for FGM/C, menstrual hygiene management, school drop outs, early child and forced marriage as well as teenage pregnancy.

The project has so far trained:

  • 78 teachers and 50 Trainers of Trainees (TOT) on the dangers of FGM/C
  • 24 traditional female circumcisers on alternative sources of live hoods instead of the ‘cut’
  • 1,225 girls have been trained as ARP champions to advocate against FGM/C and promote education for girls.
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