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Europe and Africa double research efforts to tackle AIDS, Ebola and other infectious diseases

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Ebola_virus_virionThe EU and Africa are today (2 December) doubling the research efforts to develop new and better medicines for poverty-related diseases affecting sub-Saharan Africa such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, hookworms and Ebola.

Building on the success of the first programme, the second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership programme (EDCTP2) will work with a budget of €2 billion over the next ten years to fight infectious diseases in developing countries. For this, the EU will contribute €683 million from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, and around €1.5bn will come from European countries. EDCTP2 heralds a new era of cooperation between Europe and Africa in medical research with countries from both continents working as equal partners.

Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: "Infectious diseases like AIDS, Ebola or malaria are a major global threat, but they hit poor communities hardest. The latest Ebola outbreak reminds us that more research is needed to find new medicines and vaccines that will help save millions of lives. Today, Europe and Africa are stepping up their efforts to fight the spread of infectious diseases together. With the investment of EUR 700 million from Horizon 2020, the EU will boost research efforts to prevent new epidemics in the future."

Professor John Gyapong, board member of the EDCTP Association, said: "The birth of EDCTP2 is very timely. Neglected Infectious Diseases and  Implementation Science Research are now covered. This presents a great opportunity for African countries to improve their health care delivery systems through good science. The prospects are indeed very bright."

The EDCTP Association now includes 13 European countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom) and 11 African countries (Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia). Mali, Burkina Faso, Sweden and Switzerland are about to join as well.

The main features of the EDCTP2 programme are:

  • Increased budget: from €1 billion in EDCTP1 to €2 billion in EDCTP2. The EU has increased its contribution from €200 to €683 million.
  • Extended scope: EDCTP2 does not only cover HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis but also emerging epidemics of particular relevance to Africa, such as Ebola, as well as some neglected infectious and parasitic diseases. It can now support all stages of clinical development and testing, from phase I to phase IV. This gives the potential to fund a new treatment from the moment it leaves the laboratory bench right up to its full regulatory approval and subsequent surveillance.
  • Stronger engagement of external funders: investment from other private and public funders will be increased. €70 million were raised from the private sector in EDCTP1, but the aim for EDCTP2 is to reach €500m. The EU has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and is about to sign a similar agreement with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Background

Infectious and parasitic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, hookworms and Ebola are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa where they affect in particular the poor, impoverished and malnourished population. Almost one billion people, many of whom are children, suffer from these diseases and each year they cause millions of deaths. HIV/AIDS alone kills more than 1.5 million people every year, while malaria and tuberculosis together kill an estimated 2.1 million people. In 2013, an estimated 6 million people were living with HIV in South Africa, which represented 17% of the people infected globally.

The problem cannot be solved by the market alone – businesses are often not willing to take the risk and invest in the development and production of medicines most needed by the poor but with uncertain returns on the research and development costs.

The EDCTP partnership corrects this market failure and is needed to develop and test new medicines in the population that will ultimately use them. By the end of 2012, EDCTP had funded 246 projects involving researchers from 259 institutions in 30 sub-Saharan African and 16 European countries.

More information

EDCTP
Horizon 2020
European Union to boost Ebola research with €24.4 million
Launch of the € 280 million EBOLA+ programme by the Innovative Medicines Initiatives

Africa

EU and Germany join efforts to support the African Union's response to #Coronavirus

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The EU continues to work with member states to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on all fronts. Today, 500.000 additional coronavirus testing kits have been provided to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The test kits were delivered by an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight and are part of a €10 million immediate support package to the African Union (AU) by the German Government in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In total, almost 1.4 million tests for the extraction and the detection of the virus will be made available to African Union countries. 

“Through the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge, the European Commission continues to work hand in hand with Member States to support vulnerable countries amidst the coronavirus pandemic. It is in our common interest to tackle the pandemic worldwide. We are committed to ensuring effective delivery of essential medical equipment to the countries that need it the most. This specific consignment will be able to reach a large number of countries as it will support the African Union continental response,” said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

The kits delivery is part of the larger Team Europe support to the African continental response to the coronavirus. Federal Republic of Germany Development Co-operation Minister Gerd Müller said on the occasion: “We will either beat the coronavirus together worldwide – or not at all. This is why we support the African Union through the German Epidemic Preparedness Team in co-operation with the EU. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention co-ordinate the procurement of life-saving testing equipment for AU member states. They also play an important role in educating African health workers. With our support to the partnership to accelerate coronavirus testing, we make sure that testing is made widely available. We stand by our friends in Africa in the fight against the coronavirus.”

The full press release is available online.

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Founder of leading pan-African communications consultancy APO Group to help select Jack Ma Foundation’s Top 10 finalists of Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition

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The Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) has chosen APO Group Founder and Chairman Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard as a semi-final judge for this year’s prestigious competition “Africa’s Business Heroes”.

The ANPI organizes Africa’s Business Heroes - now in its second year – a grassroots competition looking to spotlight and give a platform to entrepreneurs all over Africa, to showcase their business ideas and inspire others to do so.

The Jack Ma Foundation is committed to fostering African entrepreneurship, and has brought in some of the continent’s most esteemed business people and investors to help the search for Africa’s Business Heroes. Nicolas will be part of a select seven-judge panel who will interview candidates from a semi-final shortlist of 20 entrepreneurs based all over Africa.

In earlier qualification rounds, more than 150 prominent African business leaders acted as initial judges to whittle down more than 20,000 applicants to the final 50.

In the online semi-final, held on 28 and 29 August 2020, Nicolas will help to identify the ten finalists who will go forward to compete in a ‘pitch finale’ in front of Jack Ma himself, among others.

Nicolas has spent more than a decade at the forefront of African business. In 2007, he founded APO Group from his own living room using his own savings, and he has seen it grow into the leading pan-African communications and business consultancy, providing strategic advice to multinational organizations in diverse industries.

Now, in his role as Chairman of APO Group, Nicolas has committed to supporting the next generation of African entrepreneurs. In 2019, he embarked upon a series of conferences in some of Africa’s most prominent universities. He spoke about entrepreneurship, business and journalism to students in Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Nicolas is also a member of several Advisory Boards, including: the African Energy Chamber, an organization that drives collaboration between African governments and the private sector in all areas of the energy industry; the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, the premier hotel investment conference in Africa; and the EurAfrican Forum, an action-oriented platform that aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa.

The ANPI prize launched last year, and the competition in 2020 is even bigger and better. The prize fund has increased from $1 million to $1.5m, with each of the ten finalists receiving a share of it. The value of the Prize goes far beyond mere financial gain, and represents an extraordinary platform where all participants, and not just the winners, have benefited from expertise and insights garnered within the ANPI community of business leaders.

More than 22,000 applicants representing all 54 African countries applied for the chance to be the next African Business Hero - more than double the number of entries in 2019.

In another change from last year, applicants were also able to submit their applications and hold selection interviews in French, a further proof of the inclusive and pan-African spirit of the initiative. As a self-made Franco-Gabonese entrepreneur, Nicolas is well placed to help identify the very best of Francophone African start-ups and innovators.

“Jack Ma is at the very pinnacle of global entrepreneurship, so it is an honour to have been asked to judge this year’s semi-final of the ANPI competition,” said Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and Chairman of APO Group. “It is fantastic to see the Jack Ma Foundation investing so much energy into African entrepreneurship, and I am delighted to see such a high level of talent from this year’s applicants as we get ready to crown the next African Business Heroes.”

Find out more about the ANPI competition and view the full list of semi-finalists here.

View multimedia content.

 

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New details released about the change of head of the Russian 'Wagner' group

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A recent journalistic investigation by Bellingcat reports about the change of the head of the Wagner Private Military Group. This joint investigation by The Insider, Bellingcat and Der Spiegel notes that the new head of the group may be Konstantin Pikalov, better known as 'Mazay', writes Louis Auge.

According to media reports, Mazay participated in the campaign of the group in the Central African Republic (CAR) in early July 2018. From the context of correspondence extracted by journalists of the publication, which concerns his activities in Africa, it becomes clear how influential Mazay is - it is reported that the military adviser to the Central African President personally followed his recommendations.

The media suggest that he was the one who co-ordinated the information and ideological work with the team in the Central African Republic.

Documents obtained by Bellingcat in electronic correspondence show that if Valery Zakharov was formally a military advisor to the CAR President, then Mazay was responsible for important military issues.

For example, one email contains a scanned letter from the local provisional authorities in the town of Bambari to the Commander of the Russian Armed Forces in the Republic of South Africa.

The letter (dated 13 May 2019) requested an urgent and private meeting to "discuss a particularly delicate situation in the town of Bambari". The letters mention that the Russian military command has sent instructions to Mazay for further action.

The change of the Wagner leadership, according to some experts, may be associated with a change in the format of group.

Dmitry Utkin, who previously headed the company and was responsible for the Ukrainian and Syrian fronts, may have left the group due to changes in the methodology and vector of work.

The private military company has moved from direct participation in military operations to the strategy of military and political training and interaction. According to sources, instead of participating in hostilities, the Wagner group is currently providing consulting and training support in a number of geopolitical hot spots in African countries, including Libya.

The change of the head of the company may be explained by a change in the regional orientation of the company as well. It means increased attention by the group to the African region, in this configuration the change of manager seems reasonable.

Based on an analysis of the information revealed this investigation, one can also draw a possible conclusion that Dmitry Utkin, who led the private military company for a long time, may now have been be killed. At present, his phone number is not functioning, and his regular trips from Krasnodar to St. Petersburg have stopped.

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