South African National Blood Service Launches a New Drone-Based Blood Delivery System

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) has launched a new drone blood delivery service at the North Eastern Radio Flyers in Sandton.

Its Tron drone has a range of over 100km and can travel at up to 180km/h – but can also travel as slowly as 60km/h if necessary. The wing-design is incredibly efficient, added the SANBS, allowing for long travel with minimal power usage.

Designing the drone

“We had a discussion with the department of health to discuss how to help people in rural areas, and hence the drone project was born,” said SANBS CEO Dr Jonathan Louw.

He said that when designing the drone, there were seven criteria:

  1. Speed – The drone needed to be fast to ensure that patients receive blood before they are likely to bleed out.
  2. Two-way logistics – Not only does the drone need to be able to transport blood to the patient; sometimes it needs to transport a sample of the patient’s blood to its centres first so that a perfect match can be found.
  3. Physical conditions – The drone needs to ensure that neither G-force nor temperature affects the integrity of the blood.
  4. Safety – The drone must be able to glide to the ground in an emergency or deploy a parachute if necessary. It must also be autonomous.
  5. Payload capacity – It must be able to transport at least 4 units (2kg) of blood.
  6. Distance – To get to rural areas the drone needs to be able to fly long distances
  7. Cost –A drone flight by SANBS can be done for as little as R10. This is much cheaper than flying blood in via helicopter.

After a six-month process, the SANBS decided to partner with the organisation they deemed to be the best option: Quantum Systems.

Far-reaching benefits

Louw said the SANBS is incredibly excited by the opportunities that this new drone delivery system offers patients in need. “We believe this will be a milestone in the history of blood transfusion, not only in South Africa, but in the entire world.”

The SANBS will now conduct a series of test runs, and once the Civil Aviation Authority gives them the necessary licensing, they’ll look to expand into multiple provinces including KZN, the Western Cape, and the Eastern Cape.

How it works

The Tron drone can either be controlled by a pilot or fly autonomously. Before it takes off, it conducts a series of security checks to ensure that it is ready to fly. Once these checks have been done, the drone will take off. Crucially, the Tron is designed to fly at a height that will not interfere with aeroplane traffic.

The drone also relays HD-quality video to the control centre, ensuring that its flight path and trajectory can be monitored at all times. The design of Tron is such that it lands smoothly, avoiding any damage to either the drone or the blood sample – even if it needs to make an emergency landing.

Pictures of the Tron can be seen below.

To find out more about the SANBS, visit their website here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Africa Eyes $1 Trillion in Private Equity Deals

Fund managers say ready to deploy up to US$1 trillion for investment in the continent.

The African continent is set for a major shift in Private Equity investment trends after a major announcement was made in Nairobi this week.

During the 16th annual African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) conference, fund managers from around the globe, mainly the US and European markets said they are ready to deploy up to US$1 trillion for investment in the continent.

This is through PE funds, a move that now places the continent at a strategic position to tap into the funds for investments in various areas.

If tapped by local investment firms, the pool of funds could more than double the number and value of deals reported in the last six years, with regions such as East Africa, West Africa and Sothern Africa reaping big.

“It is a plus for Africa,” said Baba Alokolaro, Managing Partner at Nigerian law firm- TNP (The New Practice),“From what we have seen, investors are taking Africa more serious than they had in the past,”

Alokolaro who led a team of experts from TNP to the Nairobi event said the continent should angle itself for more deals this year, singling out Kenya as one of the countries set to benefit in East Africa.

“We expect to see a lot of deals going forward. In East Africa, Kenya will remain a top investment destination,” he said.

AVCA latest data shows the value of reported African PE deals between 2013-2018 was US$25.7 billion, on a total number of 1,022 deals. During the period, total value of African PE fundraising closed at US$17.8 billion.

The highest value in the six years was recorded in 2014 (US$7.8 billion) which went down to US$2.5 billion in 2015, the lowest during the period under review.

Last year, the value dropped to US$3.5 billion from US$3.9 billion in 2017, reflecting reduced investment activities by both fund managers and investment funds.

West Africa leads in both the number and value of deals reported during the period, where it accounted for 26 per cent(volume) and 25 per cent-share of total deals.

East Africa took a sizable share commanding 18 per cent of PE deals by volume , but lower on value which accounted for eight per cent of the US$25.7 billion.

The Nairobi announcement hence places the continent at a strategic position to revitalize the markets.

AVCA Chief Executive Michelle Essome has since expressed confidence over growth of the PE market in the continent.

“We are positive the PE market will continue growing presenting a unique asset class for Africa. The growth will enable companies to expand, create employment and improve lives in the continent,” Essome said told journalists in Nairobi.

AVCA Chairperson Tokunboh Ishmael said: “Our hope is that companies will grow to an extent where they will expand and increase intra-regional trade.”

According to Tokunboh, who is also the Co-founder & MD of Alitheia Identity, growth in investments will strengthen the continent, giving Africa a stronger bargaining capacity in the global scene.

East Africa

Kenya has continued to dominate the region’s PE space as investment firms hunt for deals in different sectors.

According to official industry data, the East Africa’s economic power house accounted for 59 per cent and 58 per cent of the value and volume of deals reported in the region respectively, between 2013 and 2018.

Uganda took 19 per cent of the volume of PEs and 11 per cent of the total value. Tanzania accounted for nine per cent on both the volume and value of deals reported in the region.

Ethiopia took an 11 per cent share of PE deals by value and seven per cent by volume, Rwanda six per cent (volume) and three per cent (value) while Djibouti had a seven per cent share of PE deals by value and one per cent (volume) of the total deals.

194 PE deals were reported during the six year period(2013-2018) valued at US$2.4 billion, of which US$6 million worth of the deals were median deal size.

“The average growth rate in East Africa was almost six per cent from 2010 to 2018, with Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania recording above-average growth rate,” AVCA says in its latest report.

East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) data shows disclosed value for deals almost doubled to US$834.3 million last year, compared with US$446.78 million in 2017.

Ethiopia has the potential to be a key market for PE investment, AVCA has since noted, given the size of its population (at 108 million) , the second most populous on the continent.

This year’s event saw more than 500 top fund managers and strategic investors from across the globe meet in Nairobi to deliberate on industry challenges and investment opportunities, mainly in Africa.

The fund managers collectively manage more than $1.5 trillion (Sh151.3 trillion) in assets.

During the forum, the Kenyan government called on investors to put funds in projects that will help the realization of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda of Food Security, Universal Health Care, Affordable Housing and Growth of the Manufacturing sector.

“We welcome you to take advantage of the investment opportunities in the country, mainly in the Big Four and other sectors,” Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives CS Peter Munya said.

The government has since assured investors of protection for their investments in the country.

Top areas of investment

Sectors commanding huge numbers in PE investments in the continent include consumer staples (15 per cent), consumer discretionary(14 per cent),industrial(13 per cent),IT(11 per cent),real estate(nine per cent), Health Care(7%),utilities (6%),communication services(6%) materials(5%) and energy(3%).

“There is a lot to expect in the PE market with East Africa expected to remain bullish,” said Edward Muriu, Team Leader at MMC Africa, a leading advisor in the capital markets space.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Markus Spiske [1], [2].

Award-winning Start-up MPharma Targets Affordable Medicine for Every African

Because there is little regulation in some African countries, drug prices are marked up by middlemen and often become exorbitant

MPharma, a Ghana-based start-up has received $1.5 million from Ebay billionaire Jeff Skoll to support its work in changing Africa’s pharmaceutical industry to make medicines more affordable.

MPharma is one of five social businesses to receive awards from the Skoll Foundation at this week’s Skoll World Forum, Britain’s leading event for social enterprise.

Pharmacy owners in African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria have to negotiate prices individually with drug suppliers, meaning the same medicine can cost different amounts in different pharmacies, said mPharma founder Gregory Rockson.

Because there is little regulation, drug prices are marked up by middlemen and often become exorbitant, he said.

MPharma works by managing drug supply for multiple pharmacies, so it can negotiate bulk prices and re-distribute medicines as needed. The pharmacists only pay for what they sell, which incentivises mPharma to keep prices low.

“We want every African patient to be able to get access to the medicine they need, irrespective of their socioeconomic background,” Rockson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We hope that by doing that we can create the largest and most impactful healthcare company in Africa.”

Medicines account for 20 to 60 percent of health spending in low- and middle-income countries worldwide, compared with 18 percent in more developed countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Up to 90 percent of people in developing countries have to pay for medicines out-of-pocket, making them unaffordable for much of the population, says WHO.

“We have a challenge in many African countries as it relates to the availability of products, the quality and the affordability,” said Tania Holt, who leads healthcare activities in Africa for the U.S. consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Start-ups as well as governments and donors are working to find solutions to these three problems, she said.

“I think it’s an area that lends itself very nicely to disruption … so it’s exciting to follow the start-up community as they engage in solving a very big challenge,” said Holt.

MPharma aims to eventually supply drugs to public hospitals as well as private pharmacies, cutting out what Rockson says is a large amount of bribery, corruption, and fraud.

It has also launched a micro-payment solution called Mutti for certain life-saving, high-end drugs.

Since launching in Ghana in 2014, the company is now present in Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe and last month bought the second-largest pharmacy chain in Kenya.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Thomson Reuters Foundation [1], [2]. Image sources: Benedikt Geyer [1], [2].

Sudan: al-Bashir Ousting Provides Opportunity for Human Rights and Justice Focus

The end of Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule provides a momentous opportunity for Sudan to put respect for human rights and rule of law at the center of its transition, Human Rights Watch said today. Sudan’s authorities should heed the peaceful protesters who for months have been calling for “freedom, peace, and justice” and immediately introduce reforms to help end decades of abuse and to protect human rights and the rule of law.

On April 11, 2019, Sudan’s vice president and defense minister, Awad Ibn Ouf, dissolved Sudan’s government, suspended its constitution, and announced that a military council would take over for a two-year transitional period. He also announced that all “political detainees” would be released, and that Sudan would remain committed to all regional and international agreements.

“This significant development reinforces the authorities’ obligation to address egregious human rights abuses suffered by so many Sudanese over the last three decades,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Al-Bashir’s ouster is a testament to the tenacity of the protesters, who remained in the streets despite the government’s violent repression.”

Al-Bashir’s current whereabouts have not been made public. Ibn Ouf said that al-Bashir is under arrest and in a safe place. Authorities should also carry out the two International Criminal Court arrest warrants against al-Bashir for grave crimes in Darfur, as well as the warrant for Ahmed Haroun, acting head of the long-ruling National Congress Party, who is also wanted by the ICC for crimes in Darfur.

Since April 6, thousands of protesters have held sit-ins at the Sudan army general command in Khartoum. Government forces cracked down on the protesters, killing dozens. Sudan Doctors’ Central Committee, an opposition group, said that at least 26 protesters were killed. Media reports said clashes took place between soldiers from the armed forces and other security forces, as some army soldiers sought to protect protesters.

On the morning of April 11, military vehicles and troops were deployed in multiple locations around the city, including National Congress Party offices and the homes of senior government officials and al-Bashir’s family. Opposition groups including the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been at the forefront of the protests, insist that the military should hand over power to a civilian transitional government.

Witnesses in Khartoum told Human Rights Watch that on April 11, they saw protesters surround the national security complex in Bahri, Khartoum, and watched detainees being released. The overall number of detainees released is still unknown.

Ibn Ouf is among the Sudanese officials under sanction by the United States government for his role as head of military intelligence in commanding attacks on civilians in Darfur. With the situation still in flux and extremely tense, other governments and international entities including the United Nations and African Union should also press for full respect for the basic rights of Sudanese people.

Protests have taken place in major Sudanese cities since December 2018, both in response to Sudan’s declining economy and for an end to al-Bashir’s rule. Sudanese security forces cracked down violently on those protests, killing scores of protesters and rounding up hundreds, possibly thousands, for arrest and detention. Human Rights Watch has long documented grave human rights violations and potential war crimes in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile, as well as patterns of repression across the country, including killing protesters.

Al-Bashir is facing charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes at the ICC based on attacks against civilians in Darfur dating back to 2002. On March 31, 2005, the United Nations Security Council mandated the ICC prosecutor to conduct an investigation there.

“The release of detainees in Khartoum is a necessary start, but Sudan’s leaders need to ensure that all those wrongfully detained are released and that the rights of the Sudanese people to protest peacefully are fully respected,” Henry said. “They should also hand al-Bashir and the others facing ICC international arrest warrants over to the court at once as victims of the gravest crimes in Darfur should not have to wait any longer for justice.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Human Rights Watch [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Rare African Black Leopard Photographed in Kenya

Images of a rare African black leopard have been captured in Kenya.

British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas set up motion-sensitive cameras to capture the largely nocturnal cat in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in January.

“I’m able to set up a kind of studio-like lighting and just leave my cameras set up for weeks or months,” he told Reuters.

Black leopards – or panthers – carry a gene mutation for “melanism” that makes their coats black, but the night-time infrared cameras used by Burrard-Lucas can reveal their spots.

While he was capturing stills, researchers from San Diego Zoo Global studying leopards in the area set up remote video cameras nearby, publishing their findings in the African Journal of Ecology.

Burrard-Lucas heard from a friend that a black leopard had been spotted in the area and, after contacting the landowners, headed off to set out his cameras near the animal’s tracks.

“It’s very dusty, so you can pick up tracks especially early in the morning after the night,” he said. “You can see everything that’s passed.”

Scientists had assumed that a black coat was an evolutionary response to leopards moving out of the dense forests where their spots camouflage them, San Diego Zoo said in its statement.

The discovery of a black leopard in a open, arid habitat in Kenya raises questions about that theory, however.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].