Issue 458 | 14 January 2021
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The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) has confirmed the acquisition of provisional 270 million vaccine doses for African countries, with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021.
The 10-member AVATT, which was established by African Union (AU) Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in August 2020, on Thursday, 14 January 2021, confirmed this during a special meeting of the AU Bureau of the Assembly. The AVATT was established to ensure that the continent would be able to secure sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.

In a statement, The Presidency said the vaccines would be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through an independent licensee, Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson.

“These efforts complement the COVAX facility, a World Health Organisation and Gavi Vaccine Alliance initiative to help low- and middle-income countries secure access to vaccines on a fair and equitable basis,” reads the statement.

President Ramaphosa said: “From the onset of this pandemic, our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind.

“With this in mind, we have not only campaigned vigorously for changes through all the available international forums, but we have taken the additional step to independently secure vaccines using our own limited resources as member states.

“As a result of our own efforts, we have so far secured a commitment of a provisional amount of 270 million vaccines from three major suppliers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca (through Serum Institute of India) and Johnson & Johnson.”

Arrangements have been made with Afreximbank to support member states who want to access these vaccines based on a whole-of-Africa approach. Afreximbank will, upon receipt of firm orders from member states, provide advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of member states.

Upon delivery of the vaccines, member states may pay using their internal resources or access an instalment payment facility of up to five years offered by Afreximbank.

The Presidency said there was also close collaboration between the AU team and the World Bank to ensure that member states are able to access about US$5 billion either to buy more vaccines or pay for delivery of vaccines committed on their behalf by Afreximbank.

“These endeavours aim to supplement the COVAX efforts, and to ensure that as many dosages of vaccine as possible become available throughout Africa as soon as possible,” adds the statement.

It is hoped that donors will step up further and ensure that more vaccines are provided through COVAX, as any new debt burden on member states is difficult in the long term.

While the COVAX initiative is vital to Africa’s response, the AU is concerned that the COVAX volumes to be released between February and June may not extend beyond the needs of frontline healthcare workers, and may thus not be enough to contain the ever-increasing toll of the pandemic in Africa.

Another challenge is that the target of 600 million doses from COVAX will cover only about 300 million people across the African continent, which is only about 20% of the population.

Scientists at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) have advised that countries need to reach at least 60% of the population to substantially slow the spread of the disease.

The AVATT team continues to engage other suppliers to secure more vaccines.

Given the virulent nature of the COVID pandemic, it is clear that a threat to one nation and continent is a threat to all.

To successfully eradicate the global threat of the disease, it is critical that a majority of citizens of all nations get urgent and equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.

President Ramaphosa said: “I wish to commend the members of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, Afreximbank, Africa CDC and all those who have been working tirelessly to secure these vaccines for the people of Africa. There is a long road ahead, but as Africa we are now seeing progress in our shared effort to defeat this disease”.

– Source:
As South Africa battles the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country will remain on Adjusted Alert Level 3 Lockdown.
The country has been on Adjusted Lockdown Alert Level 3 since 29 December 2020, when the resurgence in infections started.

Addressing the nation on Monday, 11 January 2021, President Ramaphosa said it was necessary for the country to remain on Level 3 until the peak of new infections had passed and the country was certain that the rate of transmission had fallen.

He revealed that the country had recorded 190 000 new infections and 4 600 related deaths since the turn of the New Year. Cumulatively, South Africa has recorded over 1.2 million infections and 33 000 related deaths since March, when the country confirmed its first case.

By 11 January, just over 15 000 patients were being treated in hospitals across the country. Around a third of all COVID-19 patients in hospitals were on oxygen.

While most measures remain in place, minor but significant adjustments see the curfew extended by an hour from 9am until 5am. Additionally, the country’s 20 land border posts will be closed until 15 February. These include the six busiest border posts, which are Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein.

People transporting fuel, cargo and goods will be allowed to pass through the ports as will those travelling for emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition. South African nationals, permanent residents or persons with other valid visas as well as diplomats will also be allowed to enter the country through the identified ports.

The ports will allow for the departure of foreign nationals and daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend school in South Africa during this period.

Under Alert Level 3, the wearing of masks remains compulsory for every person in a public space. The sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol are still not permitted. All beaches, dams, lakes, rivers, public parks and public swimming pools in hotspot areas will be closed to the public. As before, botanical gardens, national parks and other parks where access-control measures and entry limitations are already in place may remain open to the public.

On Level 3, most indoor and outdoor gatherings are not permitted. These include social gatherings, religious gatherings, political events, traditional council meetings and gatherings at sports grounds.

As before, this does not include funerals and other limited exceptions as detailed in the regulations, such as restaurants, museums and gyms.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that government will deploy a comprehensive vaccination strategy that aims to reach all parts of the country.
Addressing the nation on Monday, 11 January 2021, on the country’s progress in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, the President described the task as the “largest and most complex logistical undertaking in our country’s history”.

“It will be far more extensive than our HIV treatment programme or even our national, provincial and local elections in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time,” said President Ramaphosa.

The task will require the active involvement of all spheres of government, all sectors of society and all citizens and residents of the country.

The three-pronged strategy includes, firstly, the acquiring of enough vaccine doses to reach herd immunity.

In this regard, the President said the country was in the process of procuring vaccines through three channels: through the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility, through the African Union’s vaccine initiative and through direct engagements with vaccine manufacturers.

“South Africa is part of the global COVAX facility, in which countries pool their resources to support the development of vaccines with a view to ensure that all countries receive an equitable supply of effective vaccines,” he said.

The country is expected to receive vaccine doses for around 10% of the population through COVAX.

“Through intensive engagement with vaccine manufacturers, the task team has done tremendous work to secure vaccine doses for countries on the continent,” he said. “The South African Government has also been engaging directly with several vaccine manufacturers for over six months.”

Added the President: “Given the massive global demand for vaccines and the vastly greater purchasing power of wealthier countries, we are exploring all avenues to get as many vaccine doses as soon as possible.”

While there are several promising negotiations with a number of different manufacturers that are yet to be concluded, South Africa has to date secured 20 million doses to be delivered mainly in the first half of the year.

Government will make further announcements as it concludes negotiations with vaccine manufacturers.

The second part of the strategy, the President said, was to identify the priority groups that needed to be vaccinated with doses throughout the year.

In Phase 1, with the first batch of vaccines, 1.2 million frontline health workers will be prioritised.

“In Phase 2, when more vaccines arrive, we will prioritise essential workers such as teachers, police, municipal workers and other frontline personnel. We will also prioritise people in institutions like old-age homes, shelters and prisons, people over 60 years of age and adults with co-morbidities. The total number we plan to reach in this phase is around 16 million people,” he said.

In Phase 3, with increased manufacturer supplies, government will then vaccinate the remaining adult population of approximately 22.5 million people.

“We will then have reached around 40 million South Africans, which is considered to approximate herd immunity,” he said.

The third part of the strategy, said the President, was to distribute the vaccines throughout the country and to administer them to those who have been identified to receive them.

Government has set a target of achieving herd immunity through a massive vaccination programme as it charts a path to recovery.

Government has established a national coordinating committee, which brings together key government departments, the private sector and other stakeholders to oversee the implementation of the national strategy.

He reiterated that every vaccine that would be used in government’s programme would have to be approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, which applies stringent scientific standards to ensure the safety and efficacy of any drug or treatment.

– Source:
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, hosted her Algerian counterpart, Sabri Boukadoum, on a Working Visit to South Africa on Tuesday, 12 January 2021.
The visit by Minister Boukadoum took place against the historical and fraternal bonds between South Africa and Algeria, which were cemented during the period of the struggle for liberation against colonialism and apartheid when Algeria supported and trained cadres of the liberation movements, including the late President Nelson Mandela.

The two ministers discussed a wide range of bilateral, continental and international issues of mutual concern.

South Africa and Algeria manage their strategic relations through a Bi-National Commission, which is a structured bilateral mechanism to coordinate and forge bilateral cooperation and partnership between the two countries.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has expressed sadness upon learning of the passing away of Ambassador Themba Muziwakhe Nicholas Kubheka.
Ambassador Kubheka passed away on Wednesday, 6 January, in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. He was 72.

Ambassador Kubheka served as South Africa’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Denmark and the Republic of Angola.

He also worked as an intergovernmental relations and cooperative government specialist in the Office of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces in Parliament.

“A member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, Kubheka went into exile in the 1970s. Known by his nom de guerre of Aaron Mnisi, he trained in Angola in 1977,” said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

“Later, Ambassador Kubheka was given diplomatic responsibilities, representing the African National Congress in its missions abroad, namely the then German Democratic Republic.

The Minister has expressed her condolences to the Kubheka family.

“Our thoughts are with the Kubheka family as they mourn the loss of a patriot, flag-bearer and servant of the people,” Minister Pandor said.

Ambassador Kubheka lost his wife, Lindiwe Kubekha, and 18-month-old son, Lindithemba Kubheka, in a car accident at the Pinetown off-ramp on the N3 to Durban in 2003.
31 December 2020 marked the conclusion of South Africa’s two-year term as an elected member of the UNSC for the period 2019 to 2020. It was also the final day of South Africa’s Presidency of the UNSC for the month of December.
South Africa’s tenure in the UNSC was dedicated to the legacy of President Nelson Mandela whose values and commitment to peace were commemorated in 2018, the centenary of his birth and the year that the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly elected South Africa to serve as an elected member of the Security Council.

Marking the end of South Africa’s term on the UNSC, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, stated: “South Africa is proud to have served the interests of the international community in the global body dedicated to ensure international peace and security. Our term on the Security Council provided us with an opportunity to contribute to silencing the guns on the African continent. We also used our term to promote the peaceful settlement of conflicts through preventive diplomacy, inclusive dialogue and post-conflict reconstruction and development. South Africa continued to advocate for strengthened partnership and closer cooperation between the UNSC and the African Union, and we consistently expressed our solidarity with the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara in their quest to achieve self-determination, fundamental freedom, equality, justice and dignity. We further advanced the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security and the Youth, Peace and Security agendas”.

Minister Pandor concluded: “The world continues to face unprecedented challenges impacting on our peace, security and development. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these challenges and has necessitated us to work together as a collective, with all countries across the globe to combat the virus and ensure that we are able to rebuild a safer world where the development needs of all its people are fulfilled. Following the end of our term on the Security Council, South Africa will continue its commitment to multilateralism and work in other multilateral forums, including the UN Peacebuilding Commission and other bodies of the UN to achieve these goals."
1 January 2021 marked the start of South African firms trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and with the United Kingdom (UK) under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Mozambique-UK Economic Partnership Agreement.
“South Africa has put in place the legal and administrative processes for preferential trade under the AfCFTA on 1 January 2021, in line with the decision by the 13th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Assembly on the AfCFTA on 5 December 2020 to start trading under the AfCFTA.  [This is] on the basis of legally implementable and reciprocal Tariff Schedules and Concessions, with agreed Rules of Origin,” said the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic).

The historic AfCFTA Agreement has been signed by 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) member states, and 34 countries have already deposited their instruments of ratification to the AU Commission and have become state parties.

The current state parties are Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sȃo Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

A number of the signatory countries have begun to put the domestic administrative arrangements in place to enable trading under the new terms. These should be progressively expanded within the next few months.

In addition, trade for local firms with the UK commenced on 1 January under the new Economic Partnership Agreement between six southern African countries and the UK, replacing the European Union (EU) partnership terms for the UK market that were in place until 31 December 2020.

Meanwhile, dtic Minister, Ebrahim Patel, has called on South African farmers and manufacturers to gear up for the new opportunities in export markets.

“Trade with the rest of the continent is a critical source of output and jobs growth. African countries recognise that industrialisation is critical to the development of the continent. The new agreement will take some time to be fully operational but has the potential to be transformative for Africa, breaking our dependence on a neo-colonial pattern of trade that characterised trade.

“Our continent exports raw materials and imports finished goods, with substantial value added in the process,” said Minister Patel.

The Minister said COVID-19 had reminded the continent of the “enormous price we pay for not developing advanced economies”.

“This is Africa’s moment to build resilient, innovative economies on the back of the large markets that the free trade agreement puts in place. It will take dedication and disciplined implementation over the next few years to fully realise the benefits,” he said.

Minister Patel said the summit decision to commence trade under the AfCFTA was historic and a milestone in the continent’s longstanding efforts to integrate and industrialise.

“The AfCFTA presents South African producers and manufacturers with an opportunity for expansion to new markets in West, Central, East and North Africa, and provides alternative markets for the export of value-added goods, as well as services. In addition, exports to the UK can continue seamlessly with the new agreement with the UK in place,” Minister Patel said.

The UK Agreement effectively retains the terms of trade in the existing EU Agreement and will govern the bilateral trading relationship between each of the southern African countries (South Africa, Lesotho, eSwatini, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique) and the UK.

Both the EU and the UK are significant trading partners for South Africa.

– Source:
With more people working from home indefinitely because of the COVD-19 pandemic, the option to work from anywhere in the world has never been as enticing as it is now.
With this in mind, Big 7 Travel has released a list of the 50 best places to work from remotely in 2021 and the Mother City has made the cut.

Coming in at number 42, Cape Town made the travel website's list by virtue of its atmosphere, scenery and community of expats and nomads.

“Cape Town sometimes gets a bad rap for its droughts, iffy Wi-Fi and occasional safety concerns. However, it still manages to reel in digital nomads by the thousands,” states Big 7 Travel's website.

“Despite having a few drawbacks, Cape Town boasts an incredibly connected expat and digital nomad scene from all corners of the globe. The scenery doesn’t hurt, either. Situated right on the water, surrounded by mountains and chock-full of colourful markets and quirky neighbourhoods, Cape Town is all about the atmosphere.”

The team from Big 7 Travel used variables such as affordability, Internet access, cool co-working spaces, expat friendly communities and regulations that make it easy for digital nomads to work from a different country to make their final selection.

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, came in first, largely due to a visa the country has put in place that offers digital nomads the opportunity to work remotely within Estonia for up to a year. The cost of living is also relatively low, according to the list, and with 99% of public services available online, Internet access is a charm.

For the full list, visit

– Source:
Former junior CX and XC World Champion Simon Andreassen from Denmark and former U23 & E-bike World Champion Alan Hatherly from South Africa will join Henrique Avancini and Manuel Fumic on Cannondale Factory Racing for 2021.
Both Andreassen and Hatherly had breakout results in 2020, with Andreassen winning his first Elite XCO World Cup and Alan securing an Elite XCO World Cup podium.

The newly formed team spent two weeks together for a small team camp to prepare for the 2021 season, where the focus will be on the UCI MTB XC World Cup, UCI World Championships, the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the ABSA Cape Epic in October.

“This is really a dream come true to be wearing the Cannondale colours for the upcoming season and beyond. Excitement levels are high for this new journey alongside powerhouse teammates! I can’t wait for the season to commence and to get racing on the new machine with some big goals in place for the 2021 season. I’m confident that I’m going to level up and learn in this space which is also really exciting”, said Hatherly.

– Source:
Zirk Botha wants to use the challenge to spotlight the impact of fossil fuels and irresponsible consumerism on the planet, which will be the future home of our children and future generations.
By 8 January 2021, three weeks into his three-month row, South African Zirk Botha was rowing alone from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro, was well north of Walvis Bay and was heading west towards Brazil at the latitude of 21 degrees south.

The 59-year-old Botha served 17 years in the South African Navy, as a Naval Combat Officer and combat diver. During his time in the Navy, he completed three Atlantic crossings. He is also a qualified 200T Yacht Captain (Master of Yachts) and has sailed extensively. Botha is an avid adventure racer, competing in many multi-day non-stop events that comprised trail running, rock climbing, river rafting and mountain biking. His many adventures include trekking the Himalayas, and stand-up paddleboarding through the Okavango Delta of Botswana.

Sponsored by Juwi Renewable Energies, Botha is undertaking the extreme challenge in support of the environment and sustainable development. The trans-Atlantic crossing requires him to row completely unassisted for approximately 90 to 100 days, over approximately 7 000 km (3 800 nautical miles [nm]) in difficult weather and sea conditions. By 8 January 2021, he had completed approximately 2 000 km (1 200 nm) of his journey over the previous three weeks.

Botha had already had to deal with extreme weather conditions and the challenge of crossing busy shipping lanes.

“Winds in excess of 30 knots and swells of 4 metres forced me to secure myself at some points in my watertight cabin, with safety harnesses in the event of the boat rolling over.”

Botha is following what is known as the Great Circle Route. “It’s not a direct route from Cape Town to Rio; I first headed out of Cape Town in a north-west direction to benefit from the prevailing south-easterly wind.

“Now, after over 1 000 nm, I am north of Lüderitz Bay in Namibia and more than 300 nautical miles offshore. I will turn westerly and hopefully will enjoy the benefit of the wind behind me as I cross the Atlantic.

“On the Brazilian side of the ocean, the wind is predominantly north easterly, so I have to arrive on the coast north of Rio to have the wind behind me to head into Cabo Frio, where the old Rio de Janeiro yacht club is, which is where I will be finishing.”

– Source:
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