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.

Five priorities for Poland

By Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of OECD
The bell at the Warsaw Stock Exchange (photo by Kirtan Bhana)

1 February 2021

Before the pandemic, Poland’s economic performance was stellar: living standards were converging rapidly to the levels of the most advanced OECD countries, and the unemployment and poverty rates were at historically low levels, and well below the OECD average. As elsewhere, the COVID-19 crisis sharply disrupted the country’s development path. However, Poland has done well at limiting economic losses so far and we expect GDP to fall by 3.5% this year before rebounding by 2.9% in 2021 and 3.8% in 2022.

Thanks to fiscal and monetary support, the downturn was smaller than in most OECD countries. Direct fiscal support – such as emergency funds for healthcare and assistance for households and firms – will amount to around 5.2% of GDP in 2020. Taking into account also the so-called “Financial Shield”, notably comprising credit guarantees, the government has offered about 10% of GDP in direct or indirect fiscal support. The Central Bank reduced its policy rate to 0.1%, and introduced unprecedented quantitative easing. If economic conditions weaken again, the authorities should ease fiscal and monetary policies further.

African countries united in COVID-19 response

1 February 2021

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the COVID-19 pandemic as a health, humanitarian, social and economic crisis, which African countries are responding to collectively.

“COVID-19 has affected all the countries on the continent. To date, there are more than 3.5 million confirmed cases in Africa, and more than 88 000 people have died. It has been a health, humanitarian, social and economic crisis for African countries, most of whom are inadequately resourced to manage a health emergency of this size,” said the President in his weekly newsletter.

In the letter on Monday, the President reflected on South Africa’s term as Chair of the African Union (AU), which comes to end later this week.

South Africa assumed Chairship of the AU in the same month that the first case of COVID-19 was reported on the African continent.

India sends vaccines to South Africa
South African Consul-General Andrea Kühn was present at the loading of the vaccines destined for South Africa

31 January 2021

As promised by South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, the first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on 31 January 2021.

Andrea Kühn, South Africa’s Consul-General in Mumbai together with members of the Consulate attended the send-off and they extended South Africa's deep appreciation and gratitude to the exceptional and professional support rendered by the government of India, the SII, Mumbai International Airport Cargo, Expo Freight Private Limited (EFL) and Emirates Airline.

Consul-General Andrea Kühn said, “This is a historical event and in the spirit of solidarity and enduring friendship, this consolidated the deep friendship and strategic partnership between South Africa and India”.

Vietnam – 35 years of innovative development

Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong delivers the 12th Party Central Committee’s Political Report and documents to be submitted to the CPV's 13th National Congress.

by Kirtan Bhana

The acknowledgment that the people are at the heart of the developmental success of Vietnam’s emergence is the basis of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The grand opening of the Party’s deliberations was attended by 1,587 delegates that represented more than 5.1 million members at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi, the legendary capital city on January 26, 2021. The delegates will reflect on the outcomes of the renovation of a nation, the policy of Doi Moi (renewal) which transformed the country to follow a path of socialist orientated market economics.

2020 can be considered the most challenging year in the build up to the 13th National Congress. As the viral Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world it has caused many deaths and affected the health of many more. Further, it has affected human activity, and in some instances, brought it to a complete standstill. The pandemic has impacted the livelihoods of many people as global value chains have been disrupted and some totally destroyed. Vietnam’s response to the pandemic has been exemplary and commended by the World Bank for acting with urgency to reduce the spread of the virus and minimizing deaths and illness caused by the virus even though it shares a border with China, where the virus was first discovered.

India’s Vaccine Diplomacy: Combating Pandemic, the India Way
(Image by pixabay.com)

by Manish Chand

26 January 2021

It was a shining moment of pride for over 1.3 billion people of India, and an emotional moment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he launched the world’s largest vaccination drive on January 16. Broadcast live on the national television, the much-awaited vaccine roll-out has ignited optimism anew about a healthier and happier future. The vaccination drive has been tracked closely in the world as the “Made-in-India” vaccines promise deliverance from the lethal curse of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed millions around the world.

”It takes years to prepare vaccines. But in the shortest span of time, we have not only one but two India-made vaccines,” PM Modi said while showering praise on Indian scientists who worked tirelessly to make what seemed impossible possible. The sheer scale of India’s vaccination drive is staggering: by the second phase, India hopes to inoculate over 300 million people, which exceeds the population of Britain, France, Germany and Italy combined. “There are only three countries in the world with more than 30 crore population: India, the US and China. Hence, this is going to be the biggest vaccination drive,” PM Modi said.

President Ramaphosa asks rich countries not to hoard COVID-19 vaccines

26 January 2021

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says poor countries desperately need COVID-19 vaccines as much as other nations that have already started vaccinating their citizens.

“We are all not safe if some countries are vaccinating their people and some countries are not vaccinating,” said President Ramaphosa on Tuesday.

The President did not hold back as he raised concerns about vaccine nationalism during a virtual State of the World Address at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos Dialogues.

“The rich countries of the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from developers and manufacturers, and some countries have even gone beyond and acquired four times what their population needs,” he said.

According to the President, this was done to the exclusion of countries in the world that also need the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine.

A Self-reliant India

26 January 2021

President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday addressed the nation on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day of India. In his address to the nation, President Kovind thanked the farmers, soldiers, and healthcare workers for their contributions. He also lauded the scientists for their work during the pandemic saying, "from space to the farms, from educational institutions to hospitals, the community of scientists has enriched our life and work. Our scientists have been working day and night for decoding the Coronavirus and they have succeeded in developing the vaccine in record time. With this accomplishment, our scientists have added a glorious chapter of contribution to the well-being of humanity. Our scientists, along with doctors, administrators and people from other walks of life, have made major contribution in containing the virus and keeping the fatality rate lower in our country, compared to that in developed countries. Thus, all our farmers, soldiers and scientists deserve special appreciation and a grateful nation greets them on this auspicious occasion of the Republic Day."

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