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News Roundup: Malaria vaccine for children, FG’s N16 trillion budget proposal, Google to invest $1 billion in Africa

WHO recommends first malaria vaccine for children in Africa
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved the first malaria vaccine for children in Africa. WHO experts concluded that the vaccine, Mosquirix, could save tens of thousands of lives every year, saying “the real-world test of the jab showed it prevented 30% of severe cases of malaria even in areas with high uptake of other measures, such as bed nets impregnated with insecticide. In a statement issued on Wednesday by the global organisation, its director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, described the development as a historic moment. “This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control. Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” Mr Ghebreyesus said. WHO said the recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800,000 children since 2019. It added that it is recommending widespread use of the vaccine, which it tagged; RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) “among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high plasmodium falciparum malaria transmission.”

World Bank raises Nigeria’s growth forecast to 2.4% in 2021
The World Bank has raised its 2021 economic growth forecast for Nigeria to 2.4 percent up from 1.8 percent earlier projected by the bank this year. The Bank disclosed this yesterday in the latest edition of its Africa’s Pulse Report. According to World Bank, within Africa, economic recovery will be multi-speed, citing that Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa, the largest economies in the continent, are expected to emerge from the 2020 recession — but at different paces. The increase in the growth rate in Nigeria will be supported by the service sector according to the Bank. The World Bank said a faster vaccine deployment would accelerate growth to 5.1 percent in 2022 and 5.4 percent in 2023 in Sub-Saharan Africa — as containment measures are lifted faster than in the baseline, and spending increases.

Read also: Revenue target in 2021 declines 34% on low oil income- Buhari

President Buhari Presents N16.39 trillion 2022 budget to National Assembly
President Muhammadu Buhari has presented the 2022 Appropriation Bill for an aggregate expenditure of N16.39 trillion to the National Assembly. Addressing the joint session of the NASS on Wednesday in Abuja, the President described the 2022 Appropriation as the “Budget of Economic Growth and Sustainability”. According to him, the 2022 budget is also the first in the nation history, where Ministries, Developments and Agencies (MDAs) were clearly advised on gender responsive budgeting. “These are part of critical steps in our efforts to distribute resources fairly and reach vulnerable groups in our society,’’ he said. He maintained that defence and internal security would continue to be on top priority of his administration. On the parameters and fiscal assumptions of the 2022 Appropriation bill, the President told the legislators that the 2022 to 2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper sets out the parameters for the 2022 Budget is Conservative oil price benchmark of 57 US Dollars per barrel. Other parameters are Daily oil production estimate of 1.88 million barrels (inclusive of Condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day); Exchange rate of four 410.15 per US Dollar; and Projected GDP growth rate of 4.2 percent and 13 per cent inflation rate.

Google to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next 5 years
Google has announced plans to invest U.S.$1 billion over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation. The tech giant said that the investment will focus on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans, building helpful products, supporting entrepreneurship and small business, and helping non-profit organizations to improve lives across the continent. “We have made huge strides” but more work is needed to make “internet accessible, affordable and useful for every African. Today I’m excited to reaffirm our commitment to the continent through an investment of $1bn over five years to support Africa’s digital transformation to cover a range of initiatives from improved connectivity to investment in startups,” said CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai. The tech giant is also building a subsea cable – Equiano – to help bring faster internet to more people and lower connectivity costs. The cable will run along the coasts of South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and St Helena and connect the continent with Europe. The investment will also provide low-interest loans to help small businesses and equity investments in

African startups, Google said in a statement.
Shecluded secures Google Grant to drive financial inclusion for women
Leading Nigerian fintech company, Shecluded has been awarded an equity free grant funding by Google for Startups through the Black Founders Fund Africa to develop its technology-enabled platform for women. This funding will enable Shecluded to provide more access to financial services and business resources to women in Africa. The grant will be used to build Shecluded’s mobile application – expanding its capacity to simultaneously process thousands of loan applications and service requests.It will also enable the set up of operations across key regions in Nigeria and West Africa, increase its marketing efforts, and staff strength to meet growing demand. Founded in 2019 by Ifeoma Uddoh, Shecluded has so far disbursed over $1 million in growth loans. The company has also enabled 17,500+ women with access to business development support, wealth advisory, health insurance, credit education, as well as financial and business literacy resources. In line with its dedication to nurturing and enabling women for financial growth and business success, Shecluded is now focused on advancing its resources and developing an even more simplified and accessible technology platform.

Gurnah becomes East African first Nobel Literature Prize winner
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2021 has been awarded to Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, it was announced on Thursday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. According to the academy, Gurnah was awarded the prize for “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” With this award, he became the fourth African to win the Nobel Literature Prize and the fifth on the continent to win the prize. The prize is awarded by the Swedish Academy and is worth 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.14 million).Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah arrived in England as a refugee in the late 1960s. He is the author of 10 novels and several short stories. From 1980 to 1982, Gurnah lectured at the Bayero University Kano in Nigeria.

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