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African Leaders and Policy Makers Call for Urgent Action on Foundational Learning



, SiliconNigeria

African leaders and education policy makers have called for the urgent prioritisation of foundational literacy and numeracy to address a learning emergency that has left 9 out of 10 African children unable to understand a simple text by the age of 10.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UNESCO Pre-Summit for September’s flagship UN Transforming Education Summit, Human Capital Africa Advisory Board Chair and former President of Malawi Joyce Banda said: “Of the 100,000 children who are born everyday in Africa, 90% will be unable to read well enough to understand a simple text by the time they celebrate their 10th birthday.

“That means we are failing nearly 33 million children every year. How can Africa prosper as a continent if this is the case? How will our children compete in a modern economy if they cannot read and write? We have no choice but to tackle this learning crisis head on.

“We are delighted that the global community has begun to recognise the severity of the problem. We need all African governments to do the same, and we have to work tirelessly to ensure that these translates into action.”

Emphasising the potentially devastating impact of the learning crisis on Africa’s future, Dame Graca Michel, the former First Lady of Mozambique and South Africa, who has been an education advocate for decades said: “The results of our apathy and lack of action to improve our education systems and invest in better academic outcomes will be felt for decades to come. Quite clearly, we are condemning the African continent to be even worse off in 20 years’ time than it is now.

Africa’s children are being handicapping and we are setting up the next generations for catastrophe. There will never be escape from the entrapment of intergenerational cycles of poverty Africa finds itself in now, nor the ability to contribute our full talents to advance our societies or compete on a global stage should we continue on this path of self-destruction.

This is a failure of monumental proportions. The millions of children who are intellectually stunted by a lack of adequate learning opportunities today are the very same people who we are entrusting to lead our communities and our nations tomorrow.”

Human Capital Africa convened a panel of distinguished guests including Serigne Mbaye Thiam, the Minister of Education of Senegal, Honourable Agnes Nyalonje the Minister of Education from Malawi, Adama Momoh, the Director of policy and planning from Sierra Leone, as well as Professor Charles Soludo, the Governor of Anambra State in Nigeria, who shared their experiences having prioritised foundation learning in recognition of the scale of the crisis.

Demonstrating the practical steps that are already being taken to address the challenge, Honourable Agnes Nyalonje said: “We have started to focus on evidence informed policy making, and one of the things we want to do is to put our best teachers into grades 1-4. These children want to obtain an education but the system is failing them.” 

Emphasising the importance of data, the Director of Policy at the Ministry of Education in Sierra Leone said: “We have established a national assessment unit to gauge learning outcomes and we have digitised our annual school census, to ensure we have the evidence we need to design informed policy.”

Concluding the event, Human Capital Africa founder and former Minister of Education in Nigeria Dr Oby Ezekwesili said: “We believe that the responsibility to get out of this crisis is our own. By working together, we can rapidly change the future of this generation, and those to follow. That is why I am so encouraged by the collaboration and knowledge sharing we have seen today, which is essential if we are to implement the solutions to this crisis quickly. It is critical that we understand this is not just about allocating resources, it is about prioritisation and focus. There are simple things that the progressive leaders we have seen today are implementing which can begin to move us forwards.”

To track the progress that African governments are making to resolve the crisis, and to drive transparency and accountability, Human Capital Africa is developing and will launch a scorecard, which will measure countries’ performance on indicators within six categories that represent the ability of the education sector to provide quality education to children at a young age and prepare them for a future of learning. 

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Schneider Electric Targets 900m Africans With Sustainable Energy Solutions



, SiliconNigeria

Schneider Electric said it is targeting 900 million Africans including 95 million Nigerians with universal access to sustainable energy solutions in rural communities by fostering a greener and more resilient future.

The global energy provider said it is committed to providing access to clean electricity to 50 million by 2025, and 100 million by 2030. To date, 46.5 million people have already benefited from Schneider’s energy access solutions.

The country president, Schneider Electric West Africa, Ajibola Akindele, speaking at the Energy Access Investment Forum (EAIF) conference, held in Lagos, recently, said they have a wide range of Access to Energy solutions suitable for electrifying small homes and micro-enterprises, fundamental public services, up to villages and communities.

“Our mission is to be a global digital partner for sustainability and efficiency, empowering all to make the most of our energy resources, bridge progress and sustainability for all. At Schneider Electric, we call this Life is On,” he said.

Director MEAS, Access to Energy, Schneider Electric, Thomas Bonicel, speaking on Schneider Electric’s Access to Energy (A2E) program, emphasized the program’s mission to empower communities through clean and reliable energy access including training & entrepreneurship programs, social & inclusive business, and investment funds.

“There are over 700 million people across the world without access to energy, 600 million in Africa and 95 million in Nigeria; at Schneider Electric, we have decided to deploy our Access to Energy solutions in Nigeria.

“Our major KPI is the impact measured by the quantity of connected people and with Villaya Flex, our latest innovation, we are ready to support independent electricity access and renewable energy adoption in remote villages and off-grid communities,” he said.

The commercial leader, Microgrid, Schneider Electric, Teina Teibowei, said, Villaya Flex, a packaged, comprehensive microgrid solution, is specifically designed for rural, off-the-grid communities and aims to ensure a dependable and sustainable energy supply to meet daily needs and power productive economic activities in these

Teibowei also noted the Nigerian government and the World Bank’s joint efforts to extend electricity access to rural Nigerian villages, adding that  Schneider Electric’s Villaya Flex microgrid solution is well-positioned to tackle the electrification challenges of these remote communities, potentially serving as a valuable asset for the World Bank’s Nigeria Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-up (DARES) project.

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Africa Region

Mastercard and Payment24 to Boost EMV Adoption in Africa, Others



, SiliconNigeria

Mastercard and Payment24 are extending their engagement across Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) to help bolster security and drive innovation within the fleet and fuel payment industry across the region.

The EMV standard, now being implemented in over 80 markets, has dramatically reduced the incidence of counterfeit card fraud associated with magnetic strip cards, saving hundreds of millions in potential losses.

This partnership not only drives innovation in the fleet and fuel payments sector, but also aims to speed up the transition to the secure EMV standard and help fleet operators reduce the risk of fraud associated with magnetic strip fleet cards.

This expanded collaboration extends the geographical reach of a proven solution and delivers modern fleet and fuel payment solutions to banks and fleet card issuers throughout the region. While drivers benefit from a quick, secure, and seamless way to make payments, fleet operators can now monitor driver spending in real-time, set expense limits, and minimize the need for cash.

“By combining Mastercard’s leading payment technology with Payment24’s innovative and proven fuel payments platform, we deliver a solution for the region that enhances security and adds significant value and convenience for customers,” said Clyde Rosanowski, Senior Vice President of Commercial Solutions, EEMEA at Mastercard.

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WATRA Advocates E-Governance and Technology to Boost Jobs for Youths In Nigeria, W/Africa



, SiliconNigeria

WEST Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) has advocated greater adoption of e-Governance and concerted effort to expand the digital economy in Nigeria and other countries of West Africa. 

The executive secretary of WATRA, Aliyu Yusuf Aboki stated that this will boost investment and create quality jobs for young people in Nigeria and West Africa. He stated that despite the comparatively low rate of literacy in West Africa, there is a very wide scope for digitizing government services. 

He said he sees the enormous opportunity for e-governance as he travels across the 15 ECOWAS states. He explained that governments at all levels could increase their taxes dramatically by digitizing the identities of taxpayers and tax collection processes. He also emphasized that there is a great opportunity to expand access to education and healthcare through digital tools. 

 WATRA is a regional organisation that has the mandate to promote the adoption and harmonization of regulations that stimulate investment in telecommunications and increase affordable access for citizens.

 The WATRA boss cited the example of India where over 1 billion citizens, including the poorest citizens, could easily receive or make payments using their telephones through a government-supported platform, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

 Other government-backed digital schemes in the country enable municipal governments to manage healthcare online and citizens to store and readily access government documents such as tax returns on their phones. 

Aliyu pointed out that the digitalization of government services has transformed the lives of the 273 million Indians who are classified as living in poverty. While noting progress in the adoption of ICT to deliver and manage government services in West Africa, the WATRA boss emphasized the need to scale up existing schemes in the sub-region. 

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