Colombia and South Africa explore opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

16 February 2021

Under the leadership of H.E. Carlos Andrés Barahona Niño, Ambassador of Colombia in South Africa, a Memorandum of Understanding between Corporación Ruta N Medellin operator of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of Colombia (C4IR.CO) and The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa (DSI), was signed to unlock the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, and to bolster research capacities in Colombia and South Africa.

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution of Colombia, affiliated to the World Economic Forum, C4IR.CO arising from an alliance between the Mayor's Office of Medellín and the National Government of Colombia.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrives in SA
The first delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has landed at O R Tambo International Airport in Gauteng, South Africa. (Photo: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS)

17 February 2021

The first delivery of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in South Africa.

The vaccine, which has been approved by the South African Health Products Authority, arrived at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Gauteng on Tuesday night.

In a statement on Tuesday night, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said the consignment would be moved to a secure facility in Gauteng before being distributed to the various vaccine centres in all provinces.

Okonjo-Iweala to lead World Trade Organisation

16 February 2021

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been appointed the new chief of the World Trade Organization, becoming the first woman to ever lead the institution and the first African citizen to take on the role. In accepting the position she said that she would make global economic recovery from the pandemic a priority.

“It’s been a long and tough road, full of uncertainty, but now it’s the dawn of a new day and the real work can begin,” Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said in her acceptance speech.

Born in Nigeria, Okonjo-Iweala graduated from Harvard University in 1976 and then earned a PhD from MIT. She then became the first woman to take on the Nigerian finance ministry and the foreign ministry too. She was also the first female to run for the World Bank presidency, where she spent 25 years. She will assume her post at the WTO on March 1 for a renewable term expiring on August 31, 2025.

Outplaying the populists: A playbook for competitive African politics

More than two-thirds of Africans, the Afrobarometer polls show, favour democracy over other forms of government. Tapping into their support and presenting the opposition as an alternative rather than an enemy for the government to mobilise against, has to be the way to go.

by Ray Hartley and Greg Mills

16 February 2021

In the December 1999 election, Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo was in the fight of its political life against the opposition Renamo. Many accounts have it losing, but stealing, that election.

Although President Joaquim Chissano was officially re-elected with 52.3% of the vote, and Frelimo secured 133 of 250 parliamentary seats, opposition MDM MP Lutero Simango believes that things were skewed in the government’s favour. “Counting did not take place in Nacala [province]. No one knows those results till today. It is believed that if these votes had been counted that Frelimo would not have won.”

Simango and his brother Daviz, the mayor of Mozambique’s second city Beira, are both scions of Frelimo, sons of Uria Simango, a Presbyterian minister who was a founder member of the liberation movement back in 1962.

Celebrating Lunar New Year

12 February 2021

Today is Lunar New Year, also called Spring Festival. It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, so the dates of the holiday vary slightly from year to year, beginning some time between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars.

Traditionally about 10 days before the beginning of the new lunar year, houses are thoroughly cleaned as a symbolic gesture of removing any bad omens and inviting new and refreshing energy, moods, thoughts and feelings. New Year’s celebrations include religious ceremonies honouring ancestors. Also on New Year’s day, family members receive red envelopes containing gifts of money. Dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night colourful lanterns light up houses, and traditional foods like yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are enjoyed.

We wish you a happy, bountiful and peaceful Year of the Ox.

42nd Anniversary of the Iran revolution

11 February 2021
 
Statement by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Pretoria, South Africa

On 10 February 2021 we celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the Iran revolution. Last year was one of the toughest years for the Iranian nation because of illegal sanctions and pressures. But Iran is not a country to be surrendered. Throughout history, Iran has been seen as a cradle of humanity, culture and science. Forty-two years ago, one of the most popular revolutions of the twentieth century achieved victory. Such a great development has not been far from hatred and enmity. But, despite various conspiracies and impediments by the enemies and all kinds of hostility such as the imposed war, sanctions, economic terrorism and demonization through world media against the Iranian nation and its government, the country has hit abundant scientific, economic and technological achievements.

South Africa plans to produce own vaccines
(Image: pixabay.com)

10 February 2021

At an early morning press briefing on February 10 by the Department of Health in South Africa, Minister Zweli Mkhize set the record straight with regards to inoculation and vaccinations against the Covid-19 virus. The vaccine produced under licence from Oxford University in England and AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company by the Serum Institute of India (SII) is not as effective when tested on the mutation and variants of the virus found in South Africa, explained Mkhize. The order for the vaccine was made before the new variant was discovered in South Africa. Due to the global demand for the vaccine, the South African government had to act timeously to secure a vaccine during this unprecedented pandemic. The vaccines expiration date is April 30, 2021 and the department is negotiating a swop of the vaccine or selling it off to another country and is even in talks with the WHO about what can be done.

France and South Africa step up cooperation in Space
(Image: pixabay.com)

5 February 2021

CNES and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) consolidated their partnership through an implementing arrangement for the framework cooperation agreement the two space agencies signed in 2019. France and South Africa will thus be working closely together in the fields of climate research, monitoring of malaria zones from space and nanosatellite technologies.

This new agreement is part of a broader drive to strengthen scientific ties and exchanges between France and South Africa in areas of mutual interest and to better respond to global issues and challenges.

This closer space cooperation between France and South Africa, aside from France’s satellite and launcher communications station in Hartebeesthoek since 1964, has three objectives.

Sri Lanka onward to prosperity
High Commissioner Amarasekara addressing guests at Sri Lanka's 73rd Independence Day celebrations

4 February 2021

Sri Lanka celebrates the anniversary of its 73rd Independence Day and newly appointed High Commissioner to South Africa, HE S Amarasekara welcomed a few guests to the celebration amid Covid-19 protocols.

He read out His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement, which sets out the expectation for Sri Lanka to have an advanced and progressive economy in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, law abiding society with due consideration to the environment.
Sri Lanka is home to many ethnicities, religions, languages and cultures and for many centuries, all lived together in harmony.

The country’s resources for more than two decades were mostly allocated to fighting a war, which ended in 2009, to the detriment of its development.

The 2020 Olof Palme Prize awarded to the international civil rights movement Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement (Photo by Giovanni Solis)

2 February 2021

The 2020 Olof Palme Prize is awarded to the international civil rights movement Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, with roots in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in 2013. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is working for peaceful civil disobedience against police brutality and racial violence all over the world.

The Olof Palme Memorial Fund says in its motivation that the “BLM movement at large has in a unique way exposed the hardship, pain, and wrath of the African-American minority at not being valued equal to people of a different colour. In the United States alone, estimated twenty million people have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests, and millions more have made their voices heard all over the world. This illustrates that racism and racist violence is not just a problem in American society.”

Wetlands are a source of life
(Image: pixabay.com)

2 February 2021

Today, 2 February 2021, South Africa joins the nations of the world in celebration of the World Wetland Day with this year’s theme of: “Wetlands and Water”. This year’s focus highlights the role of wetlands as sources of freshwater and presents a call for actions towards the protection and restoration of wetlands.

“Despite their significance to human life, the 2018 National Biodiversity Assessment found that wetlands are the most threatened of all South Africa’s ecosystems, with 79% threatened. This report emphasises the role of rivers, wetlands and their catchments as crucial ecological infrastructure for water security and often complementing built infrastructure. Major threats to these freshwater systems are noted over-extraction of water, pollution, invasive alien species, habitat loss, land-use change and climate change,” said Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy.

First vaccines arrive in South Africa

(l-r) Health Minister Mkhize, Deputy President Mabuza, President Ramaphosa and Deputy High Commissioner of India Chakraborty at OR Tambo airport receiving the first batch of vaccines. (Photo: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS)

1 February 2021

South Africa has officially received its first shipment of one million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

The Emirates cargo carrying the first batch of the lifesaving jabs from India touched down at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday afternoon.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, together with his Deputy David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize witnessed the momentous occasion. India’s Deputy Head of Mission to South Africa, Abhijit Chakraborty was also present at this momentous occasion.

Plastic-wrapped bundles of the in-demand vaccine were off-loaded from the plane into the unmarked refrigerated trucks. They were then transported to a cold room lab where they will undergo quality checks, which may take between 10 and 14 days after which government will kick start its three-phase mass inoculation campaign where healthcare workers are first in line to receive the vaccine.

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