According to recent financial reports, gold is now Uganda’s second leading export commodity, worth over $250m, after coffee.
Though little of the mineral is mined in Uganda, the country serves as a transit point for gold exports from gold producing giants, neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.
Agnes Nsofwa: An Auditor turned Registered Nurse and Global Health Advocate
Agnes Nsofwa is a Registered Nurse and Global Health Advocate. she founded ASCA, a not-for-profit organisation supporting families impacted by sickle cell disease in Australia. Agnes is also the founder of Amplify Sickle Cell Voices International Inc, a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to give a voice to people from emerging economies and lower settlement areas sharing their experiences as sickle cell patients, caregivers, or healthcare providers. In this interview by Alaba Ayinuola, Agnes speaks about her NGOs, funded projects and her career-path. Excerpts.
Alaba: Can you briefly tell us about yourself and your career journey?
Agnes: My name is Agnes Nsofwa, an auditor and analyst turned Registered Nurse. For years I worked in the Tax Office as an auditor. After I migrated to Australia and worked in the bank for a few years then due to family reasons, I changed my career to become a Registered Nurse. All these skills have been helpful in my current role as a Quality Assessor, which involves assessing healthcare homes and reviewing their practices using my nursing experience. This requires me to understand auditing skills as well as understanding nursing standards to measure against.
Alaba: What motivated you to start your organisation, Australian Sickle Cell Advocacy Inc (ASCA)?
Agnes: Australian Sickle Cell Advocacy Inc is a community not for profit organisation supporting people impacted by sickle cell disease in Australia. It’s Australia’s first charity exclusively dedicated to serving the sickle cell community. My motivation for starting the organisation was to fill the gap that was missing in terms of supporting people impacted by sickle cell disease. For over six years after our daughter was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia, I felt alone and needed someone to talk to. So, in the hope of finding out more information about this condition, I went on social media to learn as much information as possible. For me this was a coping mechanism when I felt low about the uncertainty of this severe disease. However, the information I saw did not really help, rather depressing stories about how this disease can affect people.
Hence, I decided to take control and create a Facebook page where I would post positive news. The goal is to post educational information and news that was uplifting. That was six years after our daughter was diagnosed. Three years after managing this Facebook page, with a lot of enquiries on the page, I decided to ask a few friends of mine so that we could come together to create an official not for profit organisation dedicated to all people impacted by sickle cell disease in Australia.
Alaba: What is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)? Is Sickle Cell Disease the same as Sickle Cell Anemia?
Agnes: Sickle Cell Disease is the hereditary disorder in which abnormal Haemoglobin within the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) causes the cells to take on abnormal sickle (crescent) shapes. It is one of the most common genetic disorders in the world affecting predominantly people from Sub Saharan Africa.
There are different types of sickle cell disease, the most common ones include: sickle cell anaemia (SS), Sickle Hemoglobin-C Disease (SC), Sickle Beta-Plus Thalassemia and Sickle Beta-Zero Thalassemia. So, sickle cell anaemia is a type of sickle cell disease.
Alaba: What part of the body does sickle cell disease affect and the current treatments are available?
Agnes: Sickle Cell Disease affects all parts of the body as it is impacting the red blood cells which is one of the main components of blood. The main target is the Hemoglobin in the Red Blood Cells which carries oxygen to all parts of the body. Hence you see that all the organs in the body are affected and due to lack of oxygen to the parts of the body, it brings about a lot of complications. Some of which are: Pain episodes
- Leg ulcers
- Kidney or urinary problems
- Splenic sequestration
- Hand-foot syndrome
Most of the treatment options are only there to treat these complications. The only available cure is a bone marrow transplant. The other available medications are there to help with red blood cells.
Alaba: Could you briefly share your personal experience and how you were able to manage it?
Agnes: I am a caregiver to a fabulous girl born with SCD. This is what drove me to start speaking up about the issues affecting people with SCD in Australia. We had to move between three States for us to find the perfect treatment for her. Her complications from SCD were one of those complicated cases such that at the age of 8, she had utilised almost all options available for management of SCD. The only option we were left with was trying a bone marrow transplant and were fortunate to have a matched sibling donor. But this was tricky because this treatment had never been done before in Australia for SCD HbSS.
So, we trusted God and our instincts to go for it, and it paid off. Our daughter is now cured two years after undergoing the BMT, becoming the first child to undergo a BMT for SCD SS at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne Australia. However, the fight still goes on for over 1000 people still affected by SCD in Australia.
Alaba: What were the challenges when founding ASCA and the impacts made since inception?
Agnes: Founding ASCA was organic because we already had a presence on social media (Facebook), but there were and still are challenges because people still fear stigmatisation from talking about SCD. Other significant challenges were that we are a volunteer organisation and must source funds for our activities through sponsorships or grants. In the time that we have been around, we have achieved a lot of things such as:
- Receiving acknowledgement of SCD as a serious chronic condition from our Australian Federal Health Minister, the Honourable Greg Hunt MP on World Sickle cell Day in 2019 and 2020 respectively, for the first time in the Australian History.
- Being one of the first organisations in the world to create a sickle cell course for healthcare providers as SCD is considered a rare disease in this country.
- Creating the Amplify Sickle Cell Voices Part Webinar Series, which provides a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, advocacy, and education, bringing together global SCD advocates, world-class experts, and physicians. This is the first time in history that sickle cell warriors from all over the world have been able to share ideas in one “room”. Partnerships and connections have been formed because of this initiative.
- One of our recent best achievements is the approval of our newborn screening application which means that we will get a step closer to help detect SCD early and get children treated as early as possible, helping to start the management of the condition early.
Alaba: How does your organisation measure its impact?
Agnes: We have committed to a 5-year strategic plan, describing the objectives we would like to see from the gaps we have identified. So far, we have been able to tick off a few issues from this plan and we are confident as we go, we will be able to achieve a few more objectives.
Alaba: What do you think are the challenges in improving health in emerging economies?
Agnes: One of the major issues affecting people from the emerging economies is the issue around access to adequate and comprehensive healthcare. It is a well-known fact with a lot of literature to support that people in developing countries tend to have less access to health services than those in developed countries. I have seen it; I have lived in both settings.
Alaba: What would you say are the three key global health challenges, and the role of global health to address them?
Agnes: Going hand in hand with the issue of access, as a result we see the obvious health inequities in these settings. We have lower life expectancy for example, higher rates of mental health issues which are not even highly recognised in the developing countries, we see a lot of deaths that could otherwise be prevented if we were in developed countries. These are just some of the examples.
Another issue is the disparities in the management of covid-19. I think this is currently the highest priority issue that not only is it affecting developing countries but developed countries as well. However as with access to other health issues, we are still seeing that vaccines are not readily available in developing countries. We have countries like the USA who are vaccinating teenagers that are not as vulnerable as the elderly or even healthcare workers in developing countries. Yet again people from not so rich countries always have to come in last.
Also, I have seen especially in this covid-19 era is the inability to invest in health care workers especially in developing countries… again. Right as we speak Zambians in the diaspora are fund-raising to buy medical supplies for Zambian healthcare workers who are dying in numbers during the third wave of covid-19 pandemic. This issue was also experienced in developed countries where we saw healthcare workers dying or being at risk due to less supply of PPE. These people put their lives on the line and so many have died simply because their respective governments were unable to protect them, the world can do better to protect our frontline workers.
Alaba: What is the future for ASCA and plans for the remaining part of the year 2021?
Agnes: Our future looks very bright in terms of meeting our strategic plan objectives. One of the tasks that I have personally given myself is to ensure that we have smaller doses for hydroxyurea approved in Australia. As much as we have hydroxyurea in Australia, it has not been approved for use for sickle cell disease. Once it is approved for use for SCD in Australia, this will pave way for other smaller doses to be registered in Australia.
Of course, another major achievement is the conference that is pretty much done planning. I have sent you the flyer for you to advertise on our behalf. Going forward, this will be an annual event. We hope to have people from around the world join us for the face-to-face event one day, post covid-19
Alaba: How do you feel as an African in Diaspora making an impact in Australia?
Agnes: I feel honoured that I can advocate for a condition that predominantly affects people who look like me. This has been a major drive for me because I know just how hard it can be to be recognised in a country where you are the minority. In saying that it has not been an easy road, both in Australia and around the world. However, you push on because failure is not an option.
Alaba: What is your advice to policymakers and parents on SCD?
Agnes: For policymakers especially from less resourced countries: “let us make sickle cell disease a priority public health issue as it is affecting so many people of our own”. Over 10 years ago African WHO member countries signed a strategic plan to ensure that SCD was going to be professionally managed. Not all countries are doing this. Countries like Gambia do not even have a sickle cell policy nor hydroxyurea. Because of Amplify Sickle Cell Voices, one of the policy makers promised to work with SCD advocates in that country to ensure that they start working towards creating a policy. There is not much research and even simple monitoring techniques that are cheap enough for a country to afford, are missing. People are suffering, babies below the age of five are dying and it is about time that these countries put their priorities right.
For Parents, trust your instincts, if you believe something is wrong then it is probably wrong. Study your child and know what triggers the SCD crisis. Do not wait or doubt, ensure that you seek treatment right away. If you are not happy about the care your child is receiving, get a second, third or even fourth opinion until you are satisfied. Caring for a child with SCD is not easy but if you have a routine and know the triggers it gets better. Also work in partnerships with the treating doctors. If possible, try to understand the meaning of the blood test results. If you are not sure, ask questions from the doctors to tell you what they mean. Things like measuring the size of the spleen for your child is something that can easily be taught. Because if you know how to do this, you can act promptly when your child is having a splenic sequestration crisis, a life-threatening illness complication in children with SCD.
B I O G R A P H Y
Agnes Nsofwa is a Strategist and Global Health Advocate, the Founder of Australian Sickle Cell Advocacy Inc (ASCA). Through her personal experience as a caregiver to a child born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), she founded ASCA, a not-for-profit organisation supporting families impacted by sickle cell disease in Australia. She is also the founder of Amplify Sickle Cell Voices International Inc, a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to give a voice to people from low resource countries and lower settlement areas sharing their experiences as sickle cell patients, caregivers, or healthcare providers. Through sharing, the aim is to find strategies that can alleviate these issues.
Agnes is also the creator of Sickle Cell Talks with Agnes, a Facebook Live show that brings sickle cell warriors and other stakeholders to share stories and education sessions by healthcare providers to raise awareness about sickle cell disease. A mother of four children, Agnes is a Data Analyst by profession but became a Registered Nurse to understand the hospital system and what their youngest daughter was going through while living with sickle cell disease.
She holds a master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Sydney, a bachelor’s degree in business from Edith Cowan University and a Diploma in Accounting. After chasing a cure for their daughter in three different States across Australia, their daughter was cured from SCD in 2019, through a Bone Marrow Transplant, 11 years after living with this disease. Their daughter became the first child to get a Bone Marrow Transplant for SCD HbSS at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
How to Invest Safely in Digital Assets
Over the past few years, digital assets such as Bitcoin have seen an astonishing increase in popularity. Much of this can be attributed to the growing list of innovative use cases and benefits offered by these virtual currencies and their underlying blockchain technology.
Some of the widespread use cases of popular cryptocurrencies include:
- Bitcoin — Access to fast and secure financial services to all users worldwide.
- Asset-backed tokens — Grant ownership to a real-world physical assets such as gold and real estate.
- Ethereum — Facilitates building and deployment of decentralized applications (DApps).
- Stablecoins — Provide stability in a highly volatile crypto asset markets.
- IOTA — Powering the future of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Despite some digital currencies offering wide ranging use cases, the majority of people still generally view crypto assets as investment vehicles and stores of value. If simply looking at the statistics, cryptocurrencies have appreciated significantly in price over the last few years and investment in them is very attractive to not only retail investors but even large investment managers like Ark Invest are proponents and publicly traded corporations such as MicroStrategy, Tesla and SpaceX now hold Bitcoin on their balance sheets
Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, has maintained an average growth rate of 87% year-on-year since 2015 — over 100% growth in value was recorded between 2020 – 2021. Thus, it is not uncommon to see people buy bitcoin and wait for it to increase in value to make profits.
As the popularity of digital assets increases and they continue to receive significant attention, more people are increasingly getting exposure into the space. New investors are taking the leap by investing in crypto assets, with a lot of people choosing to buy bitcoin and other crypto assets.
However, just like any other investment, crypto investment poses its own set of risks and challenges — and if not careful, investors can lose their money. Many people are investing in crypto without being knowledgeable on how to keep their investments safe.
Before investing in crypto, all investors must have sufficient knowledge on how to keep their investments safe. Take the time to learn the common safety pitfalls and how best to avoid them.
Below are the top must-know tips to start investing safely.
Cryptocurrency exchanges are platforms that facilitate crypto trades. They allow customers to trade cryptocurrencies for fiat currencies or other crypto assets. Exchanges are the entry point for crypto investment and it is extremely important to choose the right one when entering the market. Currently, there are over 200 listed crypto exchanges available in today’s market.
When choosing the right crypto exchange, some fundamental features to watch out for include the location of the exchange and the country’s crypto restrictions, ease of use, the exchange services and support, security features, transaction fees, volume, and liquidity, etc.
Make sure you make properly research before choosing an exchange to use. Look into the exchange’s history, check whether it has any history of security and financial breaches. Get reviews on the exchange from the community and seek the advice of experienced investors.
Beware of fake crypto exchange platforms. It is recommended to stick to reputable and recognized exchanges. For fast and secure crypto transactions, check out reputable global crypto exchange platforms such as Remitano.
The platform features a host of interesting options that enables smooth crypto transactions. Users can buy bitcoin in South Africa through the peer-to-peer channel, swap with other cryptos, make extra income by investing using the Remitano invest option, and much more.
Remitano – the global peer-to-peer marketplace is also currently developing its native token, RENEC, to improve the quality of services delivered to customers, reduce transaction fees and ensure secure and swift transactions. While RENEC is still in the development phase, Remitano has provided an amazing opportunity for old and new Remitano users to earn FREE RENEC.
Understand the Project
Before diving into a crypto investment, it is highly advisable to take time to understand the crypto asset you are planning to invest your money in. Cryptocurrency projects, just like any other business project aim to solve relevant problems. Crypto projects with sound fundamentals, clear use cases, and realistic goals are likely to thrive in the future. Those types of project are good prospects and have potential to provide a good return on investment.
Carry out detailed and in-depth research on any crypto project before investing in it. Read the project whitepaper, understand its use cases, check what the community is saying about the project — this will give you an idea of the issues or highlight strengths and weaknesses. Check the project’s development activity, the exchanges that the crypto token is listed on to ensure its market is liquid, check the total coin supply, circulating supply, and market capitalization, etc.
Avoid investing based on hype and never invest based on FOMO (fear of missing out). This is no substitute for proper research and sensible assessment of risk potential and an understanding of what you are investing in.
Choose the Right Wallet
So, you have decided on the crypto asset you wish to invest in and you have chosen the right exchange to make the purchase. The next thing is to transfer your holding to a secure wallet for safe storage. Knowing the right crypto wallet is one of the most important steps to guarantee safety on one crypto investment. After you learn how to buy bitcoin, you have to store it in a secure wallet, otherwise, you risk losing your investment to digital theft.
Choosing the right crypto wallet can be a daunting task. There are hundreds of crypto wallets in the market — each with its security features and unique level of safety. The category of wallets available includes hot wallets, cold wallets, software wallets, and hardware wallets.
Choosing a safe and secure wallet is very important and should not be overlooked. Make sure you properly research when deciding on the type of wallet to store your crypto coins. Make sure you know the difference between each category of wallets available, understand their strengths and weaknesses before choosing the most appropriate one for you.
Consider such things as – Is the wallet easy to use? Does it have a backup feature? What are the security features? Is the wallet provider transparent on how they operate? And lastly, is the wallet or provider reputable? All these are fundamental questions to seek answers to before choosing a wallet.
Also, ensure you are protecting yourself from online theft by safeguarding your wallet key and password. Safeguard your wallet by incorporating a two-factor authentication system. Beware of scam mining platforms, fake giveaways, shady ICOs and many other scams. All these make you vulnerable and put you at risk of losing your investment.
Diversify Your Investment
Investment 101 — diversify your investment portfolio. This does not only hold true when it comes to crypto investments but all other asset types.
Cryptocurrencies are inherently volatile, and there is always a potential for a market downtrend. This makes diversification a good investment strategy in crypto. By spreading your investment, you are not only allowing yourself to profit on multiple fronts but also reducing the risk of losing all your money if a particular asset becomes unfavourable.
There are over 1000 crypto projects available in the market – each offering their own unique crypto token. You don’t necessarily need to only buy Bitcoin but can also purchase other assets such as Ethereum. Do not put all your eggs in one basket! Instead, hedge your bets through diversification. This will help mitigate the risk of digital currency investing.
Do ensure you do in-depth and detailed research on the assets you wish to invest in. With proper fundamental and technical analysis, you can find some good crypto projects with great prospects.
Understand Your Risk Tolerance
While there is no definite rule on the amount to invest in cryptocurrency, it is recommended that you always invest what you can afford to lose. In crypto investment, you win some and lose some. With this in mind, always invest within your limits. Understand your risk tolerance and invest accordingly.
By allocating investments in alignment with your risk tolerance, you are potentially mitigating losses.
What is the future of crypto trading in South Africa? Find out if crypto will gain more popularity or be subjected to stricter regulations by the South African government.
Article by: Heath Muchena
Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Computing: What’s the Difference?
Cloud storage (Image Credit: DepositPhotos)
Cloud storage and cloud computing have become fairly ubiquitous terms. The chances are that if you’ve done any sort of remote correspondence over the last few years, you have probably come across these terms countless times.
Even if you don’t fully understand the concept, you are probably engaging in some sort of cloud storage, file sharing, or computing. Cloud technology has become such an important part of modern computing, to have no experience with it is incredibly doubtful.
What is “The Cloud?”
Before delving deeper into the differences between cloud storage and cloud computing, let’s make sure we know exactly what we mean when referring to “the cloud.”
The cloud, ominous and mysterious as it may sound, refers to a remote server system where a user’s or business’ data is stored. If you own an Apple product, you have probably been prompted endlessly to set up your iCloud account. This service allows you to back up files, such as photos, music, and documents, on Apple’s proprietary server. This takes a lot of the heavy lifting off of your personal computer, creates backups of your files if any system failure occurs, and makes your files available through any computer with an internet connection.
The Difference Between Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing
Now that we have a better idea of what the cloud is, we can look at what cloud storage and cloud computing are and how they are different.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is the computing process in which files are stored remotely on a network of external servers. By doing this, cloud storage allows users to accomplish various things that would otherwise be impossible, one of which is cloud file sharing.
If you run a business where the bulk of your employees are working remotely or even just involved in some manner of correspondence that necessitates the swift transfer of files, being able to store and access important documents from wherever you are is a huge convenience. Essentially, your office becomes anywhere you can access the internet.
Another reason you might consider cloud storage is if you are dealing with high traffic and large file sizes. Your resident computing infrastructure may be unable to cope with such demand. And the cost and upkeep of additional on-premise equipment, not to mention the toll of an expanded IT team on your payroll, may prompt you to look for the best cloud storage providers to implement a hybrid cloud solution.
By outsourcing some of your storage to a cloud provider, you can rest assured (in most cases) that your data is in good hands. These providers, be they Apple, Google, Carbonite, Bitcasa, etc., devote vast amounts of resources to making sure your data is safe from system failures as well as hacking.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing comes in several different forms, ranging from the everyday to the very complex. In its simplest terms, cloud computing allows users to access and use a cloud hosting provider’s software services. It takes data that is already stored in the cloud and enables certified users to access and manipulate that data from wherever they are.
Think, for example, a shared document on Google Docs. The software used as the medium for the data is hosted by Google, as it is not stored in the users’ computers, and data can be added, removed, changed, and tracked in real-time. This allows for greater collaboration and transparency between users. This form of cloud computing is called software as a Service (SaaS).
Cloud computing also comes in the form of workflow management apps like AirSend. AirSend, and its competitors, provide an interface for real-time communication between individuals in a company. It allows file sharing, cloud storage, general and private chat, video and audio calls, and software integration.
In COVID, where users are predominately operating remotely, cloud computing has experienced a considerable increase in popularity. Using standard software that interconnects everyone involved in a project, individual users can collaborate and communicate in real-time. It has drastically reduced the need for people to be in the same room as one another.
Another form of cloud computing is concerned with harnessing a remote computing system’s processing power or specialized applications. For example, a company that is inundated with a vast amount of data may purchase the services of a cloud computing provider to process the raw data into whatever form they need. This takes the load off their local computing infrastructure, which may not handle such a massive influx of information.
The Difference in Cost Between Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing
Comparing the cost of cloud storage to the cost of cloud computing is tricky because there are so many different services provided through cloud technology, and the degree to which they are offered varies based on each client’s needs.
Cloud storage allows you to only pay for what you need, whether five terabytes or 5 petabytes. The critical thing to remember about cloud storage costs is that it is a passive service. One does not have to actively engage with cloud storage for it to provide any benefit. By simply storing your data safely and making it retrievable when needed, cloud storage fulfills its duties.
The same does not go for cloud computing. Cloud computing is only worth the money put into it if its services are being used. In cases where you are utilizing another system’s processing speed for raw data rendering, you often pay for a small time frame of maybe a few hours. This situation should be pretty self-explanatory. However, for services with monthly subscription fees, if cloud computing applications go overlooked, you will be hemorrhaging money for no reason.
For cloud storage and cloud computing, one must also look at the costs they are offsetting. By employing a cloud server to store data, you are reducing the costs of keeping and maintaining local servers. As with cloud computing, you may occasionally need the processing power of a highly sophisticated computer system but not on a regular basis. In this sense, while still costing a fair bit, cloud storage and computing are far less expensive than housing and expanding local systems.
The Future is Cloud
Cloud storage and cloud computing are ubiquitous in today’s business world, but the degree to which they are used is another question. At their most rudimentary levels, their cost is either free or negligible, and they offer great convenience to both the personal user and small businesses. However, as needs increase, cloud services such as cloud storage, cloud computing, and cloud file sharing become more costly and serve a greater purpose in the makeup of a well-functioning company.
Author: Abhishek Bakshi
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