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Italy snubs Russia over Ukraine invasion, signs gas deal with Angola

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As one of the fall-outs of the Ukraine/Russia war, Italy has made move to look for alternative gas supply as the European country on Wednesday penned a deal with Angola to ramp up gas supplies.

A statement from the Italian foreign minister during the declaration of intent was signed to develop “new” natural gas ventures and to increase exports to Italy.
“Today, we have reached another important agreement with Angola to increase gas supplies,” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in the statement.
“Italy’s commitment to differentiate energy supply sources is confirmed,” said Di Maio at the end of a two-and-half-hour long visit to Luanda.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Europe to diversify its energy supply.
“Germany and Europe must now quickly make up for what they have missed over the last 20 years,” Stefan Liebing, chairperson of the German-African Business Association, said in a recent press release.
He advised Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck to travel to African countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola, which could help free Europe from its dependence on Russian gas.
The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi reportedly want to add Angola and Congo-Brazzaville to a portfolio of suppliers to substitute Russia, which provides about 45 percent of Italian gas.
“We do not want to depend on Russian gas any longer, because economic dependence must not become a political subject,” Draghi said in a local media publication on Sunday.
“Diversification is possible and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time — quicker than we imagined just a month ago,” he said.
Draghi was due to go himself but after testing positive for Covid-19 sent Di Maio and Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani in his place.

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AfDB to sponsor Rwanda’s African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will be sponsoring Rwanda’s venture to host the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

The venture is expected boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.

“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.

Meanwhile the venture has drawn commendation from players. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, remarked that the project “provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.”

Africa is short of pharmaceutical companies that fits its population size. The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.

This dependence on imports leaves citizens vulnerable to shortages of medication — a problem that triggered a continent-wide crisis during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small pharmacies and large medical stores in Rwanda ran out of stock. In South Africa, it became nearly impossible to fill prescriptions for psychiatric drugs and oral contraceptives. In Kenya, oncologists complained about challenges treating their cancer patients. And in Nigeria, stocks of treatments to manage chronic illnesses, including HIV medicines, dipped critically low.

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Farmers lament as wild fire, heat waves cut grain harvest in Tunisia

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Farmers union in Tunisia has forecasted that output will fall well short of government hopes following heat waves and fires that are badly damaging the country’s grain harvest.

Farmers union official Mohamed Rejaibia, pointing to fires that began raging over much of the country last month, said that was no longer possible.

“The grain harvest will not be more than 1.4 million tonnes,” said Rejaibia, a member of the union’s executive office. “Some of it will be lost to fires and some perhaps during collection.”

The North African country has struggled with food importation costs driven higher by the war in Ukraine. That is largely because Ukraine and Russia account for a great amount of the global supply for grains, particularly wheat.

Earlier this month, agriculture minister, Mhamoud Elyess Hamza forecasted the 2022 grain harvest would reach 1.8 million tonnes, that is 10% up from last year’s harvest.

Wild fire has had a devastating effect in Tunisia. According to a statement released by the Tunisian Federation of Insurance Companies (FTUSA), the insurance industry in the country paid fire insurance claims totalling TND25m ($8m) in 2015 and the quantum jumped over the years to TND107m in 2020. That represented an average increase over 30% a year.

Another farmer, Abderraouf Arfaoui, in Krib, revealed that most of his colleagues had to harvest their grains earlier than usual.

“Usually we begin the harvest season in July, but this year we started on June 18… we are afraid of fires. We must watch our land day and night.

“We must harvest without waiting, even if that reduces the quantity and quality of the wheat, and when we finish the harvest we must watch our haystacks, too.”

 According to Thinkhazard, wildfire hazard is classified as high with more than a 50% chance of encountering weather that could support a significant wildfire that is likely to result in both life and property loss in any given year.

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