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Varsities turn to online teaching in face of virus threat

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OUMA WANZALA

By OUMA WANZALA
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ONYANGO K’ONYANGO

By ONYANGO K’ONYANGO
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Universities are turning to online teaching to ensure that students complete their studies as scheduled, after face-to -face lessons were suspended following cases of coronavirus in the country.

The University of Nairobi has asked postgraduate students to continue engaging their supervisors. The institution suspended face-to-face teaching yesterday.

“We intend to review our work flow with a view to allow staff in non-critical areas to undertake their duties from home,” said Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof Stephen Kiama.

Moi University has also suspended classes over the coronavirus threat.

The VC-Prof Isaac Kosgey said on Monday that all learning activities had been suspended with immediate effect.

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“All our clients should know that the university has suspended all its services except for essential services like security, health and central services,” said Prof Kosgey in a memo to all the students and staff.

“The university senate will meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8:30 am to give further directions on the situation,” he added, while directing staff and students to be extremely cautious and take measures spelt out in the regulation by the Ministry of Health.

Mount Kenya University acting VC-Prof Peter Wanderi said the university has extended the online teaching platform to the regular students to facilitate the learning process.

“Online learning will be supplemented through televised lectures in collaboration with TV 47,” said Prof Wandera.

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St Paul’s University will close on Friday for 30 days but subject to government advice.

“For the remaining part of the semester, classes and other planned academic sessions including continuous assessment tests will be administered virtually,” said the VC-Joseph Galgalo.

At Meru University, VC Romanus Odhiambo encouraged students to create WhatsApp groups as well as use the common class emails to communicate with lecturers to continue with lessons during the partial lockdown.

“Post graduate students doing research should remain in contact with supervisors,” said Prof Odhiambo.

At Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, the VC-Prof Victoria Ngumo said students have until Thursday to leave the institution.

Africa Nazarene University was the first academic institution to suspend learning as a precautionary measure following the first confirmed case of Covid-19 on Friday.

VC-Stanley Bhebhe says the decision followed revelation that the contact trace of the confirmed case included Ongata Rongai, where the institution is based.

Meanwhile, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has directed schools to make arrangements to use school buses to ferry learners to their homes or nearest designated drop off points in the wake of the outbreak.

Prof Magoha in a circular to education officials, said the drop off points must be within proximate distance that the learners can be picked by their parents.

“All school buses belonging to day schools should also be mobilised for the purpose,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

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AfDB wars: Targeting an African man or an African bank?

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Dr Akinwumi Adesina was probably more known for working with rural agricultural communities than scandal. Now, as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), he may be punch ball of a global political agenda pitting the US against African leaders, and maybe China.

Since last month, Dr Adesina has been fighting allegations of inappropriate acts that could ruin his career and roil a near-certain unopposed re-election this August. But his stay, or going, could punctuate relations between Africa and the US.

On Tuesday, some observers told the Nation the impasse over the credibility of the Bank’s President could ruin more than his career.

“The leadership crisis at the AfDB is too important to ignore, especially at this time when the lender is raising funds to shore up its capital base for onward lending to African countries, many of which are battling debt crisis and the corona pandemic,” Dr Peter Mwencha, a specialist in international political economy and CEO of the International Relations Society of Kenya said, referring to the Bank’s bid to raise more than $100 billion from shareholders.

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“From a geopolitical perspective, this issue has brought up concerns about allowing foreigners an outsized stake in African affairs. Africans are questioning why foreigners should have such a huge influence in such an important African institution,” he added, but challenged African leaders to consider raising their shareholding of the Bank.

Here is how: As Nigeria’s Agriculture minister, Dr Adesina was named Forbes Person of the Year in 2013, for ‘revolutionising’ agricultural policies in his country.

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There had been no scandal against him since he took over as President AfDB in 2015. In fact, he has led the institution, formed in 1964, on a campaign to steer clear of fossil fuel projects, dumping all dirty coal-related funding and instead focusing on powering rural homes using renewable energy.

That was until January this year when anonymous employees of the bank wrote to some directors alleging Dr Adesina had overreached his hand, awarding contracts to his cronies and relatives as well as using the position to enhance his personal stature.

When more allegations, anonymously, emerged in April about how he had paid employees who resigned mysteriously, the AfDB board endorsed an internal audit. That committee returned a report suggesting there had been no evidence linking Dr Adesina to the allegations.

But the US government wasn’t satisfied so Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wrote a letter rejecting the results of the internal audit. He argued the dismissal of all allegations against Dr Adesina will “tarnish the reputation of the institution,” according to a May 28 letter to the AfDB board.

One employee of the Bank, who wished to remain anonymous told the Nation AfDB has witnessed high profile resignations in the past five years, with the officials being paid handsome severance packages suspected to buy their silence. Dr Adesina denies any wrong doings.

But the US stance, to have Dr Adesina re-investigated, has seen African leaders, including Nigeria where he comes from rally behind their man.

Nigerian ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo rallied more than a dozen other former leaders to endorse an open letter to Washington, warning the stance would divert the Bank’s attention to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At this critical time that Africa is battling with Covid-19, the Bank and its President should not be distracted,” Mr Obasanjo argued in a letter that was also signed by Mr Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Joachim Chissano, Ms Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, Ms Joyce Banda, Mr Tandja Mamadou and several other leaders.

While the leaders called for respect for protocol, they raised a pan-African issue, indicating the Bank was the most important institution on the continent and that it was “the pride of Africa.

All African countries are members of the Bank, but it also has 27 members from countries outside the continent. It, however, lends exclusively to Africa.

Nigeria and the US are the biggest AfDB shareholders. The two command a 15 per cent share combined, but Nigeria has 9.1 per cent in the institution formed 55 years ago.

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Kenya’s single-use plastic ban in protected areas takes effect

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The single-use plastics ban in Kenya will take effect this Friday and according to the Trend Report, it is a logical next step in reducing the amount of unsustainably disposed plastics. 

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The ban will be in effect in all Kenya’s protected areas including its beaches, national parks, conservation areas and forests.

According to a newly launched trend report by Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB-Kenya), the ban is a logical next step in reducing the amount of unsustainably disposed plastics; after the 2017 ban on throw away carrier bags.

Results indicate an 80%success rate and reduced polythene bags along Kenya’s coastline, parks and drainages.

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Speaking about the launch of the report, the Sustainable Inclusive Business Director Karin Boomsma noted that “This comes at a time when we see an increase in single-use plastic products, and the ban will go a long way in encouraging the adoption of the refuse, rethink, remanufacture, recycle, and recover model of production”.

Plastic production is expected to double over the next 20 years, most of which will be single use packaging material.

The report provides more insights into the implications of the Kenyan single-use plastic ban on the economy, planet and people, and how businesses both small and established can prepare for alternatives.

The ban on single use plastics places Kenya among the first movers in a trend towards a cleaner and healthier environment globally.

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Other African countries in the frontline of eliminating the use of single-use plastics with combined total bans and levy on retailers include Rwanda and South Africa.

With Kenya being one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, the landfill menace is expected to expand faster, posing both environmental and health risks to the country and its people.

If well implemented, the ban on single-use plastics will profit public health, tourism and agriculture, among others. This is by ensuring a cleaner environment with less plastic pollution, a factor beneficial not only to human health, but also to biodiversity and will make Kenya’s tourism destinations more appealing for both domestic and foreign travelers.

The report highlights three megatrends preceding the single use plastic ban. These include the need to shift towards the circular economy, the need for businesses to adopt a more holistic approach in their relationship with nature and the need to deal with externalities such as plastic waste pollution, emissions or the depletion of resources.

“Innovation will help us replace plastic with more sustainable materials, which requires new production and sourcing systems as well as new business models. Therefore, public-private partnerships will go a long way to ensuring businesses have access to sustainable alternatives to the banned items, which will also provide huge opportunities for the private sector to create new jobs,” added Boomsma.

Besides the trend report, SIB-Kenya has set up an online crash course available to the public, aimed at helping readers understand the plastic ban concept, policy overview, best practices from frontrunners as well as ways to deal with the ban in Kenya.

A recent expression of interest for suppliers of alternatives to the single-use plastics sent out by the organization, further aims to create a linkage with players in the hospitality, travel, tourism, and MICE industries.

The ban includes cutlery, straws, balloons, PET-bottles, cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, and other products containing polymers that are harmful to the environment when not properly disposed.

 

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Meet George Floyd baby mama, daughter – Nairobi News

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As the world struggles to recover from the cruel death of George Floyd in the hands of the Minneapolis Police, the deceased’s baby mama has made an emotional plea for justice, sobbing as she insisted he was a good man “no matter what anybody thinks”.

With her six-year-old daughter Gianna clinging to her, Roxie Washington said she wanted all four officers involved in Floyd’s death to pay for the death, which has sparked fierce protests across the US and the world.

“At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna doesn’t have a father. He will never see her group up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle.”

She made these remarks during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall.

“He loved her, he loved her so much,” she said.

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“I’m here for my baby. I’m here for George because I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”

Floyd, 46, died last week in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note at a shop.

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