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Zimbabwean teachers go on strike, want US dollar wages



President Emmerson Mnangagwa: Zimbabwean Teachers join medical doctors in work boycott

Zimbabwean teachers will strike from Tuesday to press for U.S. dollar salaries as talks with the government failed to bring a breakthrough, a union official said.

The work boycott will further increase pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to contain a runaway currency crisis.

Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe’s financial system into disarray, threatening social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

With not enough hard currency to back up funds showing in bank accounts, the value of electronic money has plummeted, prompting businesses and civil servants to demand payment in U.S. dollars they can withdraw.

Just over four months into Mnangagwa’s contested presidency, the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (ZIMTA) said its members would strike as spiralling inflation has left them unable to buy basic goods and fuel that are in short supply. Government doctors have been on strike for more than a month over the same issue.

ZIMTA president Richard Gundani told Reuters a meeting between public sector unions and acting Labour Minister July Moyo only resolved to re-start talks, but teachers would not report for duty from Tuesday.

“We were very frank to each other and all the unions agreed that workers are incapacitated and we provided sufficient justification that they are unable to work,” Gundani said.

“ZIMTA’s declaration of incapacitation stands and teachers will not go to work.”

Moyo did not immediately answer calls to his mobile phone.

The government employs more than 100,000 teachers and ZIMTA has 44,000 members.

On Monday police arrested and later released nine members of the smaller Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe who were picketing at a park in central Harare, their lawyer said.

There was a heavy presence of police with water cannon elsewhere in the capital.

As doctors continue their strike, Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have been left short of drugs and reliant on patients to buy them. Pharmacies have stopped accepting insurance policies for purchases and demand payment in dollars.

Zimbabwe is also struggling with acute shortages of fuel, forcing motorists to queue for hours.

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Civil servant salaries accounted for 90 percent of the budget last year but Mnangagwa’s government has made an ambitious pledge to cut this to 70 percent in 2019 as part of reforms aimed at boosting growth and investment.

Mnangagwa came to power in November 2017 after Mugabe was forced to resign following an army coup. He was declared president in August 2018 after a presidential vote that his main opponent says he won fraudulently. (NAN)

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Egypt Education Fund oversubscribed with commitments of $119M: Hermes




EFG Hermes announced Egypt Education Fund focused on Egypt’s K-12 sector was oversubscribed with total commitments of $119 million in its first close, exceeding the initially targeted $50-100 million.

The company clarified that this fund, with investment value worth $150 million, is part of a $300 million education platform built in exclusive partnership with Dubai-based GEMS Education, one of the world’s oldest and largest K-12 private education providers.

It also stated that the oversubscribed capital was raised in just over six months and has seen strong interest from a diverse group of international investors, including high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors from Egypt, the GCC, and Southeast Asia.

According to the statement, the second close is expected to be completed in 2019, with the goal of raising additional $30 million in capital.

“The fund targets to deliver IRRs exceeding 25 percent for investors and to deploy, alongside GEMS, $300 million over the coming three years to develop a portfolio of 30 schools with a total capacity of 40,000 students,” the statement read.

The company also said that it holds talks with several global financial institutions expressing interest in subscribing to the remaining ticket.

“Our success in raising the substantial equity capital in a relatively short time demonstrates our ability to create innovative private equity products that cater to today’s investor demands. The education sector in Egypt is in dire need of major investments, and together with our best-in-class school operator, GEMS, we expect to make a strong impact in the industry and deliver attractive returns to our investors,” Head of Asset Management and Private Equity at EFG Hermes Karim Moussa said.

“Investors understand that when partnering with us they don’t just benefit from the investment expertise of our team and our ability to devise focused, structured investment vehicles, but can trust that the day-to-day running of the assets will be overseen by a world-class operator and leader in the sector,” Moussa added.

For his part, the fund manager at EFG Hermes Mohamed Khalifa said: “We continue to work closely with GEMS to build Egypt’s largest institutional education service provider and to create a meaningful impact on the schools we operate.”

“Our investment targets are quite ambitious, and we are currently pursuing multiple investment opportunities across the sector with an investment pipeline comprising over 20 schools,” Khalifa revealed.

In May, EFG Hermes in cooperation with GEMs signed an agreement with Talaat Moustafa Group Holding (TMG Holding) to acquire a portfolio of schools in a LE 1 billion ($58 million) investment.

The statement referred that EFG Hermes will funnel the acquired portfolio back to the platform in the coming weeks which will be 50/50 owned by the fund and GEMS.

Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of EFG Hermes agreed to seed $15 million to the fund as part of its strategy to support its growing private equity business.

“With private equity activity in Egypt ebbing over the last few years, the fund’s success underscores the firm’s commitment to supporting Egypt’s recovery after a period of subdued investment activity brining in good Foreign Direct Investment flow into one of Egypt’s most promising and socially important sectors,” it said.

EFG Hermes recorded consolidated profits of LE 767.16 million during the first nine months of 2018, compared to LE 1 billion during the same months of 2017.

Egyptian Financial Group Hermes Holding (EFG Hermes) is a public company, listed on the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) since February 1999.

It operates within the diversified financial sector focusing on investment banking and brokerage. It has 36 subsidiaries operating across the Caribbean, Northern Africa and Middle East. EFG Hermes is based in 6th of October, Egypt, and was established in January 1984.


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World Bank signs Sh327m science training deal




Education Secretary Amina Mohamed. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG


The World Bank yesterday signed a Sh327.8 million ($3.8 million) deal with International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) to fund training in science and innovation in sub-Saharan Africa.

The deal will support the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) to create a competent pool of researchers in applied sciences, engineering and technology sectors under the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences Engineering and Technology (Paset).

It is part of a larger Sh922.1 million ($9 million) grant by the government of Korea to support the RSIF. Korea will facilitate PhD scholarships and support students in the transformative technologies.

It will also create an exchange programme between faculty in Sub-Saharan Africa and Korean universities in areas such as ICT, solar energy and energy storage.

“The World Bank is excited to be partnering with the Government of Korea on a new project to support the RSIF. Africa’s scientific and technical capacity will be key drivers for its economic growth and the RSIF is an important initiative on the continent that will help build highly qualified local talent as well as strong institutional capacity in a sustainable manner,” the World Bank said in a statement.

The deal follows an agreement between the Bank and the Korean government to set up a Sh1.02 billion ($10 million) Trust Fund to strengthen the on-going partnership to build Africa’s technical and scientific capacity, signed in May.

Paset chairperson and Education Secretary Amina Mohamed said the deal marks the start of a long-term mutual partnership towards building African capacity in science, technology and innovation to accelerate development in Africa.

– BusinessDaily

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Africa, Asia lead in worst toilet facilities in schools




Sub-Saharan Africa, East and Southeast Asia had some of the worst toilet and hand washing facilities and drinking water for children in schools, according to a report released today by the World Health Organisation and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The report found that nearly half the world’s schools lack the facilities, putting millions of children at risk of disease.

Almost 900 million children have to contend with a lack of basic hygiene facilities during their education, putting their health at risk and meaning some have to miss school.

“You can’t have a quality learning environment without these basics,” said Dr Rick Johnston of the World Health Organisation, a lead researcher on the project.

“Children may not come to school at all if there’s no toilets … Then, when they are at school, they are not going to at their very best if they are not able to use a decent toilet or if they are not properly hydrated.”

World leaders have signed up to global pledges to provide safe water and hygiene facilities for all and ensure every child gets a comprehensive education by 2030 under the UN’s sustainable development goals.

A lack of safe water and sanitation facilities can cause dehydration, illness, and even death.

But many children are forced to risk their health to take part in classes, according to the report produced jointly by UNICEF and the WHO, the first to look specifically at provision in schools.

It found nearly a third of primary and secondary schools lacked a safe and reliable drinking water supply, affecting nearly 570 million children. Nearly 20 percent of schools had no safe drinking water at all.

Just over a third of schools lacked adequate toilet facilities, affecting more than 620 million children. Almost one in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools were considered to have no sanitation.

Nearly half lacked proper handwashing facilities, essential for helping prevent the spread of infections and disease. Nearly 900 million children were affected, the report found.

“It’s deeply shocking,” Tim Wainwright, the chief executive of charity WaterAid, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The consequences are very broad in terms of children’s access to education, general health and state of nutrition.”

Adolescent girls in particular are often forced to miss classes when they are on their periods if there are no proper cleaning and sanitation facilities, he said.

More than a third of girls in South Asia miss school during their periods, often because they lack access to toilets or pads, according to a WaterAid and UNICEF study earlier this year.

The World Bank last year warned countries needed to quadruple spending to $150 billion a year to deliver universal safe water and sanitation.

However, experts say they are optimistic the situation can be quickly improved if leaders treat water, sanitation and hygiene as a priority.

“With political will, it really is possible to deliver good quality services,” said Johnston.

Source/Image: NAN

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