Prioritizing food safety in Africa emphasized as implementation of Malabo Commitments gather momentum

Efforts by the African Union (AU) to bring to the forefront, the Africa food safety agenda, have been boosted following commitments by a group of food safety experts in the continent.

Members of the food safety community, predominantly, focal points of National Committees on Codex Alimentarius in AU member states committed to support the Africa food safety agenda programmes, particularly, the Africa Food Safety Index (AFSI), an information and data gathering tool on food safety.

The African group forms part of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, created in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) with responsibility for setting food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to ensure food safety among others.

In recognizing the important role the Codex group plays in food safety, the AU through its programme, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control Africa (PACA), in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRF), and FAO organised a three-day workshop themed: “Strengthening Food Safety Capacity for Reporting in the Biennial Review”, to strengthen the experts network for the implementation of the AFSI in gathering data and information on food safety.

The meeting focused on building capacity for member states on how data from AFSI will be integrated with the Biennial Review (BR), a monitoring and evaluation tool adopted by the AU, to assess how member countries are implementing the 2004 Malabo Commitments by African leaders, to revolutionize agriculture in the continent. The BR is presented to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in the form of a score card called “Africa Agricultural Transformation Scorecard (AATS)”. The maiden report was presented to the Assembly of Heads of States and Government in 2018, however, lacking the food safety element.

Dr Amare Ayalew, Programme Manager for PACA, observed that AFSI is an important step to generate home-grown credible evidence on food safety in Africa, adding that if properly implemented, it could develop into a bigger platform like “Food Safety Information System for Africa”. He encouraged participants to prioritize data generation to promote evidence-based food safety policies and actions.

Mr. Piet Visser, Team Leader, Agribusiness and Value Chain (CTA), stressed the importance of the AFSI to the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and food systems. He expressed optimism that the inclusion of data from the AFSI that the BR-AATS, would stimulate countries to make the required investments in food safety, an intervention, he said, CTA would be proud to associate with.

Speaking on behalf of the participants, Mr Fredy Chinyananhu, a member of the Zimbabwe National Committee on Codex Alimentarius expressed the commitment of members to ensure that the objectives of the AFSI are achieved. He noted the meeting had generated a lot of interest in the AFSI and built the capacity of members to appreciate the importance and value of the AFSI to food safety in the continent.

The Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods was adopted by African Union Heads of State and Government in June 2014 at the 23rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly. It commits leaders to a set of actions that will accelerate agricultural growth and transformation across Africa. The Declaration was a recommitment to the principles and values of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) as well as additional commitments and targets for results and impact.

Community Networks Key to Connecting Africa, says Internet Society

As Internet access continues to grow in Africa, with over 450 million people now connected to the Internet, more than 60 percent of the population still remains offline


How better connectivity can transform Africa’s economies. Photo credit: World Economic Forum

As Internet access continues to grow in Africa, with over 450 million people now connected to the Internet, more than 60 percent of the population still remains offline. Community Networks are a key way to address this connectivity gap, says the Internet Society, a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet.

Community Networks are communications infrastructure built, managed and used by local communities. They provide a sustainable solution to address the connectivity gaps that exist in underserved urban, remote, and rural areas around the world. In Africa, where these gaps are more prevalent, a recent survey was able to identify 37 community networks initiatives in 12 African countries, of which 25 are considered active.

The Internet Society ( in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) ( and Zenzeleni Networks ( hold the third Africa Community Networks Summit in the Eastern Cape, South Africa from 3-7 September, 2018.  The Summit aims to promote the creation and growth of Community Networks, increase collaboration between community network operators in the region, and to provide an opportunity for them to engage with other stakeholders including content producers, regulators and policymakers.

Particpants from 13 countries in Africa (Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, DRC, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia) will be attending the summit in addition to attendees representing Community Networks in Spain, Germany, Argentina, India and the United States.

The conference sessions will cover topics ranging from how Community Networks can close the connectivity gap in Africa to strategies to support local access.  Discussions will also include how local networks can be used to improve delivery of basic services and inspire creation of locally relevant content and services, as well as how to create policies and regulations that enable Community Networks in Africa.

Access to spectrum is critical for Community Networks.  Policy makers and regulators can play a key role in ensuring innovative approaches to making spectrum available by working with Community Networks.  An Internet Society report ( examines the various ways that Community Networks can gain access to spectrum, including the use of unlicensed spectrum, sharing licensed spectrum, and innovative licensing.

“Enabling communities to actually connect themselves is a new way of thinking,” explains Michuki Mwangi, Senior Development Manager for Africa at the Internet Society.  “Policy makers and regulators should recognize that connectivity can be instigated from a village or a town and that they can help communities to connect themselves by providing an enabling environment with innovative licensing and access to spectrum.”

The Africa Community Networks Summit ( will conclude with a visit to communities served by Zenzeleni Networks, South Africa’s first telecommunications organization that is owned and run by a rural cooperative.  Zenzeleni Networks installs and maintains its own telecommunications infrastructure to deliver affordable voice and data services.  All revenues stay in the community and the residents together decide what is done with the proceeds.

The cost to deploy Community Networks can be low. Often, the technology required to build and maintain the network is as simple as a (inexpensive, locally available) wireless router. The networks can range from WiFi-only to mesh networks and mobile networks that provide voice and SMS services.  While they usually serve communities under 3,000 people, some serve more than 50,000 users.

“These networks not only provide affordable access in areas where operators don’t find it commercially viable to provide similar services,  but, by being built and operated by people from within the community, they bring many other benefits to the areas where they operate.  They are key to enabling the unconnected connect themselves in Africa,” explains Carlos-Rey Moreno, Community Access Project Coordinator for APC.

Facebook joins hands with partners across Africa for a safer Internet

Celebrating Safer Internet Day (SID) ( under the connected theme of “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”, Facebook ( today announced a number of partnerships across Africa with over 20 non-governmental organisations and government agencies – with the aim of raising awareness of emerging online issues and helping to explore ways to make the Internet safer for all.

facebookLaunching a series of initiatives, including a specially created family-friendly animation ( which directs viewers to the Parent Portal ( in the Facebook Safety Centre (, parents and caregivers can access a variety of information and tips on how to discuss issues of online safety with teens, developed in partnership with safety experts from around the world.

Some of these resources include:

Commenting on Facebook’s work as part of Safer Internet Day, Akua Gyekye, Public Policy Manager Facebook, Africa said: “Every day, millions of people across Africa come to Facebook to talk about their special moments and to stay connected with the people they care about. We recognize the important role we play in creating a better and safer online community for all, with this year’s growing partnerships across the continent further demonstrating our ongoing commitment to supporting organisations that raise awareness on these important issues.” 

Lillian Kariuki, Executive Director at Watoto Watch Network, said, “On Safer Internet Day we will also be sharing Facebook’s newly translated (Swahili) online safety content directly to the children and ICT partners in Kenya.

“In connection with the theme ‘create, connect and share respect’, our focus this year is on cyberbullying. We’re working with Facebook to share messages that encourage positivity and respect on social media.”

Awo Aidam Amenyah, Executive Director at JI Initiative, said their main priority at JI Initiative is to ensure digital citizens especially children and young people are responsible in their use of the space.

“Resources and materials provided by Facebook as a partner help to empower our audience in Ghana on how to make the Internet better. We will continue to work hard in educating people to become good digital citizens,” he noted.