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COVID-19 Testing: Aliko Dangote Foundation engages 54gene Laboratory

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54Gene is accredited by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and has already set up labs in Lagos and in Ogun States

LAGOS, Nigeria- The Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), a philanthropic endeavor of Aliko Dangote, has contracted 54Gene, a molecular diagnostics company specialized in research, and diagnostics, to immediately set up a 400 test/day capacity laboratory in Kano State.

The lab, which was inaugurated yesterday – May 3rd in Kano, will start with a testing capacity of 400 tests a day, increasing to 1,000 tests a day by May 10th.

The lab will be set up at Muhammadu Buhari Hospital in Kano, where an isolation center is currently operational.

The President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said the foundation is directly supporting the Nigerian government’s COVID-19 containment efforts in Kano State.

According to Dangote, this new investment in support of increasing nation-wide testing, comes in addition to ADF’s support through the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

He explained: “CACOVID is already setting up a 310 bed isolation center at Sani Abacha stadium in Kano. We are extending that capacity by another 150 beds at the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre in Kano, which is being converted into an isolation center now. These two centers will be operational pending the final validation by the Infection Prevention and Control team, which we expect will be completed in the coming days.”

Dangote pledged the Foundation’s commitment to reduce the number of lives lost to diseases, such as COVID-19, Ebola and other deadly viruses in the State.

He said the foundation would not relent in using its investments in health, education, and economic empowerment to help lift people out of sickness and poverty.

Speaking on the efforts of the Foundation to assist the Federal Government in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of ADF, Zouera Youssoufou, added that ADF is also supporting the Rapid Response Teams in their work to identify suspected covid-19 cases across the healthcare centers in Kano. “ADF will immediately handover to the Kano RRT, 10 new ambulances (4 that ae immediately available and 6 over the next week), two vehicles and PPEs to support the transportation of patients from different parts of the state”, she said.

She said that the Foundation is also supporting the Kano State Covid-19 contact call center that responds to citizen queries and concerns around Covid-19 and refers people to the proper place for follow up, by providing extra phone lines and ICT infrastructure as well as training for the call center staff.

On training, she disclosed: “We are supporting training and incentives for covid-19 health workers.  We will provide hazard incentives and protections for the healthcare and lab workers who are working on the covid-19 response. We are also providing training to them, initially online and via distance learning, and will complement his with in-person training in Kano under strict IPC protocols developed in conjunction with the NCDC.

“ADF will continue to provide PPEs to the Kano State Covid-19 Taskforce, which will then be distributed to the hospitals as appropriate. Items already supplied include coveralls, gloves, masks, respirators, goggles, boots and sanitizers.

“We are expanding the CACOVID communications strategy in Kano by adding more communications and advocacy around Covid-19 prevention across radio, TV and traditional and community leaders.”

Commending ADF, Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje stated: “There’s no doubt we started on a shaky foundation, with assistance of ADF, we can see that a friend in deed is a friend in need. We are very grateful for the mobile testing Centre witch will launch with 400 samples per day and after a week, increase to 1,000 tests  per day.

“It is now left for us to intensify efforts to collect samples. We will ensure that all that 44 Local Government Council have collection centres.  Here in the metropolitan local government, we will have 100s of collection centres because this is where the majority of the population is”.

The governor added that the state has intensify efforts to create awareness about the reality of coronavirus.

Also Read: Envisionit Deep AI launches AI solution to help Radiologists and Doctors fight Coronavirus

He commended the Dangote Foundation for always occupying the forefront of helping in critical times like this.

Speaking on the collaboration, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, the 40ft structure built with container technology, provides a unique plug-and-play solution.

Ene-Obong explained that the mobile laboratory is also fully kitted with vital instruments including an autoclave, bio-safety cabinet, centrifuge, heating blocks, vortexes, pipettes, and PCR machines to support COVID-19 testing.

He stated: “Our mobile lab is fully equipped with all the vital instruments required for COVID-19 testing, and allows us to quickly offer our services to multiple states due to the ease of transport. Its unique plug and play feature eliminates the logistics of shipping samples to another location for the processing which reduces turnaround times for test results and allows clinicians to manage and treat patients accurately, sooner rather than later.”

Ene-Obong said the company has also helped build capacity by equipping molecular scientists with the necessary skill set required to handle the instruments in the mobile lab as they would in regular molecular testing laboratories.

“Our mobile lab removes the restriction imposed by permanent buildings and allows us to quickly offer our services to multiple states due to the ease of transport and the mobile capability it provides”, he added.

Visit: Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF)

NGOs - SDGs

African Women in GIS (AWiGIS)- Our Story

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African Women in GIS (AWiGIS) is a community of African women around the world who either study, work or are interested in the geospatial industry. This community was borne out of the desire of two young women, Cyhana Williams from Ghana and Chidimma Umeogu from Nigeria, to create an association that fostered community and encouraged other African women to pursue GIS careers. They also sought to display the application prospects of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field for Africa.

The community’s major objective is to create a forum that gives women of African descent (whether living in Africa or in the diaspora) the freedom to create connections, gain mentors, learn new skills, access education in GIS-related schools as well as job-related advice and opportunities.

The African Women in GIS community first started out as two separate country groups. Chidimma created her group on 29th July, 2017 for Women in GIS- Nigeria whiles Cyhana formed hers in April, 2019 called Women in GIS – Ghana. Together, these groups had members who were students and workers in the GIS field. It was a little tough garnering women in Ghana since the visibility and awareness of GIS was low. Thus, some students especially women who studied GIS in their undergraduate studies switched to a different career path after graduation due to the difficulty in getting a sustainable GIS job.

Cyhana Williams – co-Founder

Membership

In June 2019, Chidimma and Cyhana met on LinkedIn and discussed their efforts in creating platforms for women in their individual countries. This led to a conversation of collaboration and increasing the group coverage to pan the entire African continent. Hence, the genesis of the African Women in GIS community on October 2019. It started out with forty-one (41) Nigerian members, a member from Burkina Faso and eleven (11) Ghanaian members. Nigeria is the group’s headquarters country with Ghana as the second.

Members were encouraged to invite other women with the same interests or practice to join the group. The founders researched and reached out to women on LinkedIn who were in the same field. As time went on, members became acquainted with one another and shared their views on how the community should progress with their ideas for activities. Connections groomed and the group became larger.

Chidimma Umeogu – co-Founder

Growth

In January 2020, the African Women in GIS was introduced to the rest of the world. It launched its social media platforms (LinkedIn and Twitter) and used these platforms to reach out to more women. The platform also highlights the profiles of members in order to motivate other women who are practicing, studying or just enthusiastic about GIS. By the end of January 2020, AWiGIS had reached about one thousand (1,000) followers on LinkedIn and two hundred (200) followers on Twitter with over one hundred (100) members in its member group.

Also Read: Irene Mbari- Kirika- inABLE.org, Career and Impact

By February of 2020, the founders engaged a few members of the group as volunteers as well as a secretary who assist in the task of creating content and planning group activities in order to improve the member and public engagement. In May 2020, AWiGIS gained about 2,500 followers on LinkedIn with almost 200 active members from Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia , Kenya Cameroon and the Diaspora. It also launched its membership transition to Slack where a variety of channels for members to discuss, share relevant information and host tutorial activities operates efficiently. Although membership is strictly for women, other activities are open to the public.

The Future

In all enthusiasm and excitement, we have a number of activities planned out for the next few months as well as into the future. Members of the community proposed some activities whilst others were opportunities gotten from key individuals and organizations who reached out to the community.

For starters, AWiGIS has an upcoming volunteering project with Ibisa Network – an Organization that aims to aid small-scale farmers with satellite images of their farms to help them get insurance covers. The community collaborates with Ibisa Network by providing the AWiGIS members a volunteering opportunity with Ibisa where they will be assessing satellite images of farmlands. Through this volunteering project, the members get to add this work experience to their CVs as well as other incentives.

After the pandemic, AWiGIS plans to encourage the members to host outreach programs to schools and other groups. There, the members will help educate students about GIS and show them some impressive visualizations of GIS application as well as some roles of this technology in the real world. In addition, the official AWiGIS website will be launched and it will serve as a platform to display African GIS applications. It will also be a job recruitment site for geospatial roles in Africa.

Esther Moore – Secretary

We are excited about the various plans we have in place for the community, Africa and for the world at large. Follow us, join us and view the geospatial world through the eyes of African Women.

Author: Esther Moore

African Women In GIS

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NGOs - SDGs

Irene Mbari- Kirika- inABLE.org, Career and Impact

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Irene Mbari- Kirika is the Executive Director at inABLE.org, a NGO that empowers the blind and visually impaired students in Africa through computer assistive technology. Recognized as a dynamic, global strategic leader and an executive-level innovator who has created technology-powered special-educational environments to positively affect the lives of blind, visually-impaired, and multi-disability youths in Africa. She is also a sought-after consultant and public speaker who has collaborated on training, evaluation, research, and policy projects with the World Bank, the government of Kenya, multiple international universities, and many global corporations.

Irene has been a featured speaker at several high-profile educational events, including the UNESCO Mobile Learning week in Paris and ICT Connected Summit in Kenya, as well as an invited participant at the Zero Project Conference 2020 held at the Vienna headquarters of the United Nations in Austria, and TechShare Pro 2019, which took place at Google UK headquarters in London England.

As the Executive Director at inABLE.org, Irene Mbari- Kirika has researched, developed, and executed the organization’s accessibility of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy, and has led and facilitated discussions on best practices in the accessibility space and international nonprofit operations. She has championed initiatives related to global policy, advocacy, and international development.

She has also co-authored research reports- A Comprehensive Report on the Nationwide Baseline Survey of Technology Skills for Learners with Vision Impairment in Kenya by the Georgia Institute of Technology – and A Computer Training Program for the Schools for the Blind in Kenya published by the Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research.

Education

Irene holds a Business Management degree from Kennesaw State University in Georgia and a Global Master’s of Arts (GMAP) in International Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, USA.

Impact & Philanthropy

The inspiration for inABLE began when Irene attended a reading day at the Kenya National Library. A group of students who were extremely competitive, smart, and outgoing captured her attention. This group stood out in the reading challenge for the day.Yet, to her astonishment, Irene learned these students were all blind or low vision.When she inquired about these youths and learned that they were from a nearby blind school that had a shortage of Braille books and paper and without access to computers and the Internet.

This disparity in education sparked an urgent drive to connect these students to the rest of the world by destroying the barriers to communication and employment. The inABLE organization can truly be described as “visionary,” because its mission is to empower blind and visually impaired students in Africa through technology. From the very beginning, inABLE has watched blind and visually impaired primary and secondary students transform as they learned how to access online educational resources, research homework assignments, communicate with new friends worldwide, use social media, host blogs and develop employable skills, such as JAVA programming and HTML website design.

What is unique is that the inABLE computer lab is a complete technological solution that removes barriers to learning with an innovative educational platform that promotes information computer technology as an integral classroom tool. With assistive-technology computer skills, students gain independence to use multiple devices, access eBooks and online educational resources, real time news and the ability to communicate and interact with the rest of the world.

Computer Lab for The Blind More Student

Over the last 10 years, inABLE has set up eight computer assistive technology labs at special schools for the blind across Kenya and enrolled more than 8,000 students. inABLE’s programmes are designed to have the following lasting and transformative impact on the lives of beneficiaries:

  • Bridging the gap between the blind and sighted in Kenya through technology. Our graduates will be able to seek lucrative employment in fields that would otherwise be completely closed to them.
  • Contribute to increased feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, and independence for our graduates.
  • Societal transformation where blind children are viewed as assets to their families rather than liabilities, which will in turn result in more families believing in and investing in the children’s future.
  • Transformation of social attitudes toward the blind and visually impaired as they begin to be seen as productive members of society.
  • Augmenting the Africa’s workforce with highly trained and highly motivated blind contributors.
  • Engage in policy change related to digital accessibility to ensure everyone has access to information on the Internet, including people with disabilities.

Additionally, Irene has led inABLE to a position of leadership in inclusive tech in education, accessible computer skills training, and assistive technology research by forging foundational relationships with charitable partners, foundations, and global technology leaders, including Safaricom Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft, Google, Mastercard Foundation and many more.

While working through inABLE’s start-up and growth, Irene Mbari- Kirika grasped another critical factor which lead to the establishment of Irene’s most recent venture Technoprise Consulting.  Technoprise promotes inclusive technologies as well as hiring of people with disabilities in the tech industry.  Its primary goal complements inABLE’s — increasing employment of persons with disabilities in the tech industry in Africa, while providing digital accessibility services to public and private sector clients around the world.

During the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19, Irene had to pivot and launch the Inclusive Africa Conference as an online event next fall- Inclusive Africa. Without missing a beat, Irene gathered global leaders in inclusive education, design, and employment to participate in the Inclusive Design Africa monthly webinar series, including a Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) program – Inclusive Africa Webinar. 

Also Read Seipati Mokhuoa – CEO Southern African Women In Leadership (SAWIL)

Awards

In recognition of her many accomplishments, Irene Mbari- Kirika has received both The Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) in 2016 and the Humanitarian Award, Kenyan Diaspora Advisory Council of Georgia in 2013.

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Corporate Citizenship

Paxful’s Bitcoin Africa Fund Joins COVID-19 Fight

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The bitcoin donation campaign aims to provide COVID-19 relief

Paxful: Jennifer Crossley’s heart is warmed with the knowledge that dozens of local families will have a solid meal to eat before bed each night as they face the economic devastation of Covid-19 that has led to an income crisis for many South Africa’s families.

Crossley, founder of GROW Generations Educare in Kensington, Cape Town, is both humbled and delighted that the families of the 60 children who attend her day-care have benefitted from food parcels made possible by donors like Paxful. 

An entrepreneur with a Grade R teaching background, Crossley founded the day-care with her life savings and built it up from humble beginnings to a highly respected institution with the support of GROW with Educare Centres (GROW). Most of her pupils come from poverty-stricken and working-class families who rely on the creche for at least 2 meals a day. With schools closed and economic activity largely halted by COVID-19, many families are worried about putting food on the table.

“I understand the reasons for the lockdown. Unfortunately, however, the impact of the halt to the economy has been difficult for my community and many others to live through,” she said of the national lockdown. But it was her children and their families she was most worried about. Not long into the lockdown, she started receiving desperate messages from her pupils’ families who told her they were running short of money for food, electricity, and other basic necessities.

Bitcoin marketplace responds to a lockdown crisis

Help arrived to ECD Centres like Jennifer’s through the generosity of members of the public, businesses, and an unlikely source – the bitcoin-economy. Passionate about education sector and entrepreneurship, global bitcoin-marketplace Paxful jumped at the opportunity to donate food to GROW Centres and assist in shining a spotlight on the severe challenges faced by the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector in South Africa as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Crossley is not alone. It is estimated that just over 2.7 million children access an ECD programme in South Africa – mainly serving the most vulnerable communities whose household incomes have been severely constrained by the crisis.

“When I heard that food had been donated, it was definitely a miracle at the right moment. There was one Dad who told me the same morning that he had wondered what he was going to cook for his children, and when I told him that GROW had received food parcel donations, he was very thankful,” Crossley said.

“I am very thankful for these generous donations that came just in time. It felt great that my school could be a part of this – making a difference – because every little bit helps,” she said #BuiltWithBitcoin

(Image credit: Paxful)

Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin charitable initiative has a long history of encouraging the bitcoin community to support charitable initiatives around the world. In the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Paxful is expanding the initiative with the launch of its Africa Fund, which aims to use bitcoin donations to support charities who are tackling the impact of the pandemic on underserved communities. Paxful is kicking off the Fund with a R270 000 ($15 000) donation, and matching any additional donations, up to R270 000 ($15 000), submitted to the Fund by members of the community in bitcoin.

Also Read: Lockdown Bozza: Developed to simplify the lockdown regulations in South Africa

“There has never been a more important time to support micro-enterprises and young children. Not only are ECD Centres vital in the educational, social and emotional development of children, but they are also key contributors to well-functioning communities. The crypto-currency sector is developing a track-record of supporting worthy causes and we’re encouraging our peers and customers to support charities like GROW ECD on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19,” says Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful.

Urgent action required for children in need:

Still in its inception phase, Paxful’s Africa Fund, has already provided 8,400 meals across South Africa facilitated by GROW Educare Centres and its parent organization The Clothing Bank; 6,100 masks for frontline workers in Kenya; as well as essential items such as food, vitamin C, sanitizer, face masks, diapers, etc issued to 1,000 underserved people in Nigeria.

“We are incredibly grateful for Paxful and our other donors’ contributions to our hunger relief efforts. The need for food is dire in all the most vulnerable communities across South Africa during these trying times. Many of the children who attend our Educare Centres are dependent on the nutritional meals provided to them daily at our Centres, and with schools closed, in some cases, children are going hungry. Paxful’s donation will have a positive impact on children in need, their families and under-served communities at large,” says Tracey Chambers, CEO of GROW.

“Urgent action is needed, and our organization has acquired the necessary permits to utilize their facilities and capabilities to initiate fundraising and pack food parcels. Any contribution goes a long way as we need all the help that we can get to feed our communities and reach as many people as possible,” concludes Chambers.

See here for how you can donate to Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin Africa Fund.

Issued by Paxful.

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