VoltDB Launches Active(N) Lossless Cross Data Center Replication

Patented Capability Allows VoltDB Data Platform to Replicate Data Across More Than Three Data Centers at Once While Mitigating Data Conflicts

BEDFORD, Mass., Aug. 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — In direct response to the needs of its key customers, working with some of the biggest telco operators in the market, VoltDB, the leading enterprise-grade data platform built to enable fast-data decisioning, today announced the introduction of its Active(N)tm Lossless Cross Data Center Replication (XDCR). Active(N) Lossless XDCR will give telcos and enterprises seeking to build 5G use cases a huge advantage by increasing their networks’ resilience against outages and security risks, as well as adding extra protection against data loss.

Active(N) Lossless XDCR replicates data in real time across up to four or more data centers at once, allowing for “five nines” (ie, 99.999%) availability, which is quickly becoming a must-have in the age of 5G.

“We have just raised the bar on data consistency, resiliency, and scalability,” said VoltDB Chief Product Officer Dheeraj Remella. “We can now offer a level of data center replication that no other data platform can offer, and that truly enables enterprises to have foolproof uptime and resiliency built  into their architecture so that they can significantly increase their success in 5G monetization.”

5G’s promise of ultra-low latency is creating new use cases that are forcing data to be both immediately available and consistent, regardless of a user’s location. This new paradigm is inevitably leading to data conflicts. VoltDB’s unique XDCR solution will provide telcos and enterprises with the unique possibility to resolve conflicts at both the application level and the database level, in order to maintain data resiliency and consistency, even at sub-10-millisecond latencies and regardless of where the data is stored, in single or with multiple data centers.

“Anyone can do transactions quickly,” Remella said. “We enable our customers with the capabilities to do them quickly while still observing and then fixing the inevitable conflicts that arise when the same record is changed in multiple data centers at the same time. This puts telcos and enterprises that use VoltDB in a very unique position to provide unprecedented protection against data-center failure and cyber-attacks, while also providing insanely fast data-access for their globally distributed applications, including the mission-critical ones.”

With Active(N) Lossless XDCR, VoltDB enriches their enterprise grade data platform with an unprecedented functionality to help customers differentiate in the roadmap towards automation and digital transformation and to build robust networks that allow for faster 5G use case deployment and monetization.

For more information on VoltDB, visit www.voltdb.com/why-voltdb/activen-xdcr/.

About VoltDB
VoltDB empowers enterprise-grade applications to ingest, process, and act on data in single-digit milliseconds to tap into new revenue streams and prevent revenue loss. With industry-leading customers in telecommunications, finance, gaming, and many other verticals, the VoltDB Data Platform is uniquely positioned to be the go-to technology for any company seeking to take full advantage of 5G, IoT, and whatever comes next.

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Ghana Public Health Sector Enables Efficient COVID-19 Response Readiness with GhiLMIS

One Network and S4D Consulting worked together to ensure Ghana Public Health Sector supply chain capability outputs with COVID-19 supply chain needs.

DALLAS, Aug. 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — One Network Enterprises (ONE), the leading global provider of supply chain control towers and the Digital Supply Chain Network™, is pleased to announce that the Ghana Ministry of Health has utilized the Ghana Integrated Logistics Management Information System, known as GhiLMIS, to help successfully meet and address COVID-19 supply chain needs. The comprehensive implementation process of GhiLMIS shifted the focus from manual reporting systems to the usage of data delivered from the network, to make more informed decisions. This has had significant positive impacts on operations in the shortest period of time which enabled, and continues to enable, COVID-19 response readiness.

One Network Enterprises (ONE) is the global provider of a secure, and scalable multi-party network in the cloud.

With the Government of Ghana’s high commitment to the COVID-19 pandemic response, their plan was to procure and distribute the appropriate medicines and supplies for the early treatment of cases that would reduce morbidity and mortality. Key to achieving this was GhiLMIS. The system has been able to capture and process COVID-19 related transactions through the entire value chain while tracking and tracing COVID-19 items throughout the supply chain. Data derived from the system has been leveraged to enable informed decisions for demand and supply planning and scenario modeling, distribution segmentation and demand prioritization.

GhiLMIS, built on the One Network NEO platform, provides an electronic logistics management information system that connects more than 1500 medical facilities across the country on the One Network Digital Supply Chain Networktm.  The project was funded by the Global Fund and its successful implementation, managed by S4D Consulting, was based on a patient centric approach that ensured data quality while improving and optimizing operational performance and reducing supply chain costs.

The system has been instrumental in producing:

  1. Improved planning and decision making to address the country’s COVID-19 needs and address pandemic disruptions to the entire supply chain;
  2. Better execution of supply and demand planning utilizing intelligent demand and replenishment sensing engines;
  3. A supply chain that is agile and responsive to all disruptions brought on by COVID-19;
  4. Multi-tier collaboration to ensure responsiveness to customer needs in real time;
  5. A business intelligence engine that provides prescriptive and predictive analytics to different scenarios and;
  6. Establishment of a foundation for future growth.

“When we did our initial systems evaluation, we realized we had over 100 different systems. There was no portability of the data, there was no standardization, there was no visibility which was hampering our efforts,” said Samuel Ampomah, Head of IT, Ghana Ministry of Health. “The logistics management information system was designed to help address these challenges. The Ministry of Health now has a clear strategy to move toward data standardization. The GhiLMIS provides the capability of interfacing with every system which enhances data exchange, standardizing the data to enable real time reporting and access to data that enables us to make informed decisions.”

“Today real time logistics and transactional data, is generated by the click of the button addressing operational inefficiencies that existed prior to the system implementation,” said Bernard Asamany, Deputy Director, Supplies, Stores and Drugs Management Division, Ghana Health Services.

“The Ghana Ministry of Health did a fantastic job getting all their partners and staff up to speed and deployed quickly on GhiLMIS,”  said said Greg Brady, Founder and Chairman of One Network Enterprises. “As a fully deployed digitized, country wide network, GhiLMIS has enabled the Ghana MoH to react quickly and fully support COVID-19 pandemic response measures.  In addition, they are well prepared to take on other relief measures that may come up in the future to best serve their population.”

“The interruptions caused by the pandemic created a critical need to ensure that the Ghana’s public health supply chain are activated,” said Philip Lule, GhilMIS implementation lead and CEO for Systems for Development (S4D). “It emphasized the need to ensure an agile and responsive supply chain management system, that is both effective and efficient in fighting any disruptions future and current. It highlighted how data plays a critical role in addressing supply chain needs, creates agile opportunities and facilitates resilience.”

One Network Health Logistics Management Systems and Digital Supply Chain Networktm are contributing to positive results to improve supply chain efficiencies in Rwanda, Ghana, and Nigeria, connecting thousands health care facilities that service the health care needs of more than 250 million people throughout these countries.

Learn more about the GhiLMIS project.

About One Network Enterprises
One Network is the leading global provider of supply chain control towers and the Digital Supply Chain Networktm. It is the only available solution that gives supply chain managers and executives end-to-end visibility with a single version of the truth, from inbound supply to outbound order fulfillment and logistics, matching demand with available supply in real-time. This multitier, multiparty digital platform helps optimize and automate planning and execution across the entire supply chain network.

Powered by NEO, One Network’s machine learning and intelligent agent technology, real time predictive and prescriptive analytics autonomously enable industry-leading performance for the highest service levels and product quality at the lowest possible cost. It’s the industry’s only solution with a fully integrated data model that connects companies to their suppliers and all logistics partners, providing a network-wide, real-time single version of the truth. Leading global organizations have joined One Network transforming industries like Retail, Food Service, Consumer Goods, Automotive, Healthcare, Public Sector, Telecom, Defense, and Logistics. Headquartered in Dallas, One Network has offices across the Americas, Europe, and APAC. For more information, please visit www.onenetwork.com.

Contact:
Michelle Gaubert Julia Angelen Joy
One Network Enterprises Interdependence Public Relations
+1 510 316 0590 +1 949 777 2423 x 330
mgaubert@onenetwork.com  julia@interdependence.com 

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Mutual fund investment: a focus on the ecocapital prime fund

Mutual Fund Investments

Collective investment schemes are investment vehicles that allow investors with similar objectives to pool their funds together with the aim of investing the funds for an objective specified in the scheme particulars also known as the prospectus.

The common interest of the investors demonstrated in the scheme particulars they have signed on is reflective of their risk tolerance level and the expected return from the investment. Mutual Funds and Units Trusts are the two main types of collective investment schemes available to investors in Ghana.

Despite the underlying structural difference in operations, both collective investment schemes are similar in the overall concept of providing a structured investment product, professional management, and approval by the regulatory authorities.

Mutual funds are dominant in the Ghanaian collective investment scheme space with various investment strategies to meet the investment needs of the various shareholders of the fund. With the new directive of retail investors to invest in collective investment schemes, the mutual fund market provides great prospects.

The operations of a mutual fund require the fund to be incorporated as a company with the scheme particulars serving as the regulation to the fund. Like any company, the shareholders appoint the board of directors, and the board contracts the various service providers to work towards effective management of the fund in line with the scheme particulars.

The key service providers appointed are fund managers and custodians licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Ghana. The shareholders appoint the auditors to audit the funds’ accounts and report to the shareholders. The investor gains a return on his or her investment if the value of the share held increases.

The price of the share of a mutual fund is ascertained using the Net Asset Value (NAV) of the mutual fund on a daily basis or on such other basis as prescribed in the scheme particulars.

Mutual funds have been available on the Ghanaian investment market for the past two decades with market leaders in the space being Databank EPACK, Databank MFUND, SAS Fortune Fund, SAS Midas Fund among others. In 2019, the EcoCapital Prime Fund was launched as an addition to the mutual fund products available in the Ghanaian Securities Market.

Spotlight: EcoCapital Prime Fund

EcoCapital Prime Fund is an open-ended money market mutual fund with the objective of maximizing current income to the extent consistent with the preservation of capital and maintenance of liquidity to meet short-term needs while enhancing shareholders’ wealth to meet medium to long term financial goals.

The prospectus of the fund allows for investments in Government Treasuries and related debt instruments, Fixed Deposits, Commercial Papers, and other permissible short-term instruments. The fund is managed by EcoCapital Investment Management Limited with Guarantee Trust Bank (Ghana) Limited as the custodian.

During the Initial Public Offer of the Fund in August 2019, the fund raised a total asset of GHS 1.3 million and has grown steadily to GHS 2 million by December 2019 and GHS 5 million by June 2021. The growth in the size of the fund is also translated into the overall improved returns of the fund against its benchmark and other market players.

The fund since inception has returned 38% with an average annual return of 17%. The fund looks to improve its performance given improved return in the 2021 financial year and looks to end the year on a record high given the Year-to-date return as of June 2021 of 16.34%. The fund is an open-ended mutual fund that is available to the general public.

It remains evident that mutual funds provide a secured and well-regulated investment alternative for the investing public. With the presence of board and regulatory oversight, professional advisors, and a well-laid down prospectus to guide investment, investors can be certain of the investment tools being invested in. Investment is key to financial independence and collective investment schemes could be the game-changer.

 

Source: Ghana Web

AWTN, AfCFTA sign partnership to boost intra-regional trade and investment

The Africa World Trade Network (AWTN) has partnered with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to accelerate intra-regional trade and investment through exhibitions, meetings, and events.

The partnership seeks to mobilize private sector actors across Africa to drive the attainment of strategic objectives that underpin the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

The partnership between AWTN and the AfCFTA Secretariat is meant to work towards three common objectives that support continental trade and investment promotions across Africa and promote the overall objectives of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement:

To co-organize and host forums that support continental trade and investment promotions in Africa and promote the overall objectives of the AfCFTA Agreement
To support the growth and development of Africa’s commercial community; and
To collaborate on matters of common interest, in the pursuance of enhancing intra-trade in the Continent

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Board Chair of AWTN, Otwasuom Osae Nyampong VI, said: “Intra-regional trade promises a real win for Africa, and the AfCFTA Secretariat is at the forefront of this significant progress in the continent’s history; it is a second Pan-African victory after Independence. AWTN on its part has recognized this watershed moment and will act as a catalyst to boost trade relations among member states and businesses across the continent.”

Otwasuom Osae Nyampong VI emphasized: “Like the AfCFTA Secretariat, AWTN is headquartered in Accra, which has been recognized as a beacon for transformative development in the sub-region. In this partnership, AWTN commits to initiate and escalate innovative programs to mobilize investment opportunities that will enhance sustainable trade across Africa as envisioned by the AfCFTA.”

On his part, His Excellency Wamkele Mene – Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the AfCFTA is effectively implemented such that there is shared and inclusive economic growth.

He underscored “after many years of talks and negotiations, we are now focussed on rolling out the AfCFTA across the continent”, and identified young Africans and women in the trade as segments of society that must benefit from the implementation of the Agreement. Secretary-General Mene further noted, “it is Africa’s time, and through the AfCFTA we have a unique opportunity to turn a new page on Africa’s economic development and growth trajectory”.

His Excellency Wamkele Mene further articulated the need to enhance the platforms of engagement between the public and private sectors. He highlighted “It is for this reason that partnerships such as this between the private sector, government, and developmental institutions are needed to help collaborate and find solutions to our daily challenges.”

About the AfCFTA and the Secretariat

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat is the sole supranational organization in the continent, legally established and mandated to handle the rules of trade between African countries. At the core is the implementation of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA, negotiated, signed, and ratified by the State Parties.

The AfCFTA operates a continental system of trade rules, it acts as a platform for negotiating trade protocols, facilitates the settlement of disputes between State Parties and it monitors the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.

The Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA was signed at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Kigali – Rwanda in March 2018. With 55 countries, the AfCFTA will be the largest Free Trade Area (FTA) in the world in terms of membership, covering a market of 1.3 billion people with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$3.4 trillion (2020).

The AfCFTA Agreement entered into force on 30 May 2019 – 30 days after the deposit of the twenty-second (22nd) instrument of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission – the designated Depositary for this purpose.

To date, fifty-four (54) out of fifty-five (55) countries have signed the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA and thirty-seven (37) countries are State Parties by virtue of the deposit of their instruments of ratification of the Agreement.

Trading under the AfCFTA commenced on 1 January 2021 in line with the decisions of the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union that was held virtually in December 2020.

 

Source: Ghana Web

All you need to know about the mortgage market

Shopping for a mortgage can be unnerving without the proper information and guidance from mortgage experts. Fortunately, it gets much simpler when you understand the basic ways of categorizing mortgages.

A mortgage, in many ways, is a lot like shopping for a home – there are different options that cater to different needs. Mortgages come in many different types and can be structured in many different ways and it is always advisable for mortgage shoppers to find the one that fits their financial priorities.

While all mortgages share the same purpose – funding the purchase of property – they each come with different advantages, disadvantages, and unique terms. Ultimately the type of home loan you choose will have a tremendous impact on your future mortgage payments and overall financial health.

Mortgage structures are numerous and varied and depend on the financial institution offering the mortgage. In this article, we discuss some mortgage structures that are peculiar to the Ghanaian market and specifically, Stanbic Bank.

Home Purchase

The first option, home purchase, is the most common option on the Ghanaian market. It involves a lending institution providing funds to a home buyer for the acquisition/purchase of an already built home.

Under this arrangement, the lending institution holds the title to the property and releases it to the homeowner only after the completion of the mortgage payment. In a case of a default, the lending institution has a right to repossess the property and sell it to pay off the mortgage.

Developer Construction Financing

The second option is what is referred to as developer construction financing. This mortgage financing structure involves financing a project from start to finish. The lending institution disburses funds at different stages of the construction process until the property is completed. Off-plan financing is possible under this option. Upon completion, the cost of the mortgage is spread over a number of years for the homeowner to pay.

Equity Release

The third option is what is commonly referred to as equity release, which involves a bank paying a homeowner the value of an existing property so the homeowner can buy another home or use the proceeds for other purposes. An equity release enables you to unlock the value in your existing property by taking a loan and using the cash released for a variety of personal needs, including the purchase of another home or prime land, or home expansion among others.

Mortgage Refinancing

Refinancing a mortgage simply means allowing a new bank to take over your mortgage. It involves a lending institution paying off your old mortgage exposure from another institution. Most mortgage shoppers choose to refinance so they can lower their interest or shorten their payment term or take advantage of turning some of the equity they have earned on their home into cash.

With this option, after the valuation of the property, the exposure is paid off and the balance is given to the client to be used for any other purpose.

Home Expansion Financing

Home expansion financing, as the name connotes, involves accessing funds for renovations, remodeling, and expansions of the home. Mortgage shoppers, under this structure, approach lending institutions to acquire funds to work on existing properties. Here also, the amount accessed is spread over a period of time for the borrower to pay.

Vacant Land Financing

Vacant land financing involves a financial package for the acquisition of land. The intent with seeking vacant land financing is to eventually build a house on the block of land one day without it being determined in a specified amount of time. Therefore, unlike most home loans which are used to fund the purchase of a land and property package, a vacant land loan is purely to gain ownership in a block of land.

Public Service Financing

The public service financing for mortgages is reserved for people within Ghana’s public sector who require mortgage financing. This is a special mortgage arrangement that is peculiar to specific banks in the country like Stanbic Bank through the Ghana National Mortgage Scheme.

Although these mortgage structures may not be exhaustive and may not reflect what pertains to other jurisdictions, in Ghana, these are the popular ones, and knowledge of them will help and guide mortgage shoppers in their decision-making process.

 

Source: Ghana Web

The supreme name of Jesus

“I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come… and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms – all because we are one with Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 1:19-21, 2:6.

Supreme simply means highest, absolute. It is the highest authority. The name of Jesus is a great and powerful weapon in the hands of a Christian, especially the prayer warrior. It is always fatal to Satan and the dark kingdom when mentioned by a believer. The name of Jesus opens the doors of heaven and also brings all the powers in heaven, on earth, under the earth and in the water to subjection. But, why is it so powerful? What is in his name? First of all, Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came from heaven. This is a very simple introduction of Jesus. But if you study the scriptures very well, you will no doubt arrive at the undisputable fact that Jesus is God. He is God, but came in human form. From the Old Testament to the New, everything points to this fact. So, if this man was God in the flesh, why would he (his name) not command absolute authority and influence over his creation? Tell me.

Secondly, before you accuse me of not knowing my bible, Jesus also ‘earned’ the highest authority when he successfully paid the price for sin and rose from death. They are self-explanatory. Now, read the following scriptures and make the conclusions by yourself: “For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe” Colossians 2:9-10. Again, see this powerful revelation, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we cannot see – kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him. He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15. Wow! Did you actually read that? Jesus was not just a prophet. He was actually God that came in human form!

Great! Now, what do you want me to say again? If Christ has these nature and attributes, how then can created beings like Satan, demons, dark agents, witches, etc, ever stand before him? Now these are the things we must understand as Christians – that our Savoir Jesus Christ is God. That he created and is controlling all things in the whole universe – be it power, principalities, rulers, authorities, events, thrones, dominions in the air, in the waters, on the earth, on the mountains, in the dark places, in the day and in the night. So, when you mention his name, these created beings hear the name of their creator and they have no choice than to obey, bow and submit to his authority. A creation will always submit to the creator. Simple! Now, go with this knowledge and begin to conquer every enemy and situation. We will continue. Watch out for the second part of this article. Blessings to you!

 

Source: Modern Ghana

South African health experts have identified a new lineage of SARS-CoV-2: what’s known so far

As a team of South African researchers we have identified a new lineage of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. A lineage represents a genetically distinct virus population with a common ancestor . This virus may be designated as a variant in future, based on significantly altered properties, but first we need to understand it better. Our findings so far are set out in a non pre-peer reviewed paper .

The new lineage, assigned the name C.1.2, has been found in all provinces in the country. While it shares some mutations with other variants, it is different in some respects.

Viruses mutate all the time. Sometimes the mutations result in an added benefit for the virus, such as increased transmissibility. But often mutations don’t do anything beneficial for the virus. So more mutations do not always mean trouble for us, its host.

For C.1.2, a lot is still unknown. For example, it’s too early to tell whether these mutations will affect transmissibility or vaccine efficacy.

The Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa has been monitoring changes in SARS-CoV-2 since March 2020. South Africa was one of the first countries globally to introduce systematic and coordinated genomic surveillance, sequencing genomes of SARS-CoV-2 from patient samples representative of different geographic regions and over time.

Its findings have provided insights into how and when SARS-CoV-2 was introduced into the country , and into its early spread . The Network has also been sequencing virus genomes to identify newly developing viral lineages of particular concern.

Later in 2020 the network detected what is now called the Beta variant of concern and more recently observed, almost in real-time, the arrival and rapid “take-over” of the Delta variant in South Africa.

What’s known, and what’s not known

We select patient samples from diagnostic laboratories throughout the country and perform sequencing to analyse the virus genomes. We then compare these sequences to those seen before and elsewhere. It’s very much like the game where you spot the difference between nearly identical pictures.

We’re playing spot the difference with SARS-CoV-2. When we find many differences – or differences in certain particularly important places like the spike of the virus – we pay special attention. We then look to see how often we see this particular virus and where – in one region of the country or in multiple regions, only in South Africa or also in other parts of the world. We also monitor whether it increases over time, which would suggest that it is replacing previous versions of the virus.

When we sequence the virus and compare it to other SARS-CoV-2 viruses it gets assigned a name based on the closest matching virus. We then look at the virus and the one that it matches to see how similar they are to each other. If we see a lot of differences that could be an indication of a new lineage.

In May 2021 we first detected a mutated group of related SARS-CoV-2 viruses in South Africa which has been assigned the lineage, C.1.2. So far, from May to August 2021, C.1.2 has been detected in all provinces. Yet it occurs at relatively low frequency and though we see small increases in this lineage overtime they remain very low.

This lineage possesses mutations within the genome that have been seen in other SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The network alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the South African National Department of Health to this lineage in July. The two months between our first discovery and the notification comes from the lengthy process of sequencing and analysis. In addition, mutated viruses appear from time to time – but many disappear again. Therefore we needed to monitor this particular one to see if it would be detected in additional regions. Only when we started detecting it in other provinces and when it was reported also from other countries did we feel we had sufficient evidence to suggest a new lineage.

The surveillance network is continuing to monitor the frequency of the lineage across the country, and helping other African countries do the same. Also, tests to assess the functional impact of the mutations it harbours are under way – for example, how well do antibodies in people who have been vaccinated or infected previously neutralise the new virus, how well does it multiply in cell cultures compared to other virus variants, and so on.

The virus has not yet fulfilled the WHO criteria to be classified as a variant of interest or variant of concern . A variant of interest has genetic changes affecting important virus characteristics (transmissibility, disease severity, immune, diagnostic or therapeutic escape) and epidemiological impacts suggesting a risk to global public health. A variant of concern is the worst category – it’s a variant with proven increased transmissibility and/or virulence and/or decreased effectiveness of public health or medical tools such as vaccines, therapeutics and tests.

Delta is a good example of a variant of concern that rapidly came to dominate the epidemic globally, causing major waves in many countries including those with advanced vaccination roll-out programmes.

Read more: What are COVID-19 variants and how can you stay safe as they spread? A doctor answers 5 questions

The C.1.2 lineage shares a few common mutations with all other variants of concern, including the Beta, Lambda and Delta variants. But the new lineage has a number of additional mutations.

The implications

We are still gathering more data to understand the impact of this lineage on transmissibility and on vaccines.

SARS-CoV-2, like all viruses, mutates with time, usually in a way that affords the virus some kind of advantage. Some of the mutations in the C.1.2 lineage have arisen in other SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest or concern. But we still don’t have a full picture. It will take a combination of ongoing thorough surveillance (especially to see whether it perhaps displaces the currently prevalent delta variant) and laboratory-based studies to characterise its properties.

Based on our current understanding of the mutations in this particular lineage, we suspect that it might be able to partially evade the immune response. Despite this, however, our view based on what we know now is that vaccines will still offer high levels of protection against hospitalisation and death.

We expect new variants to continue to emerge wherever the virus is spreading. Vaccination remains critical to protect those in our communities at high risk of hospitalisation and death, to reduce the strain on the health system, and to help slow transmission. This has to be combined with all the other public health and social measures.

We therefore advise the public to remain vigilant and continue to follow COVID-19 protocol by including good ventilation in all shared spaces and wearing masks that cover your nose, mouth and chin. These non-pharmaceutical interventions are still shown to be preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 irrespective of the variant.

Read more: COVID-19 herd immunity? It’s not going to happen, so what next?

We are also of the view that the mutated lineage is unlikely to affect the sensitivity of PCR tests. These tests typically detect at least two different parts of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, which serves as a backup in the case of a mutation arising in one of them. Studies are ongoing to assess any implications for diagnostic testing.

Why vigilance is needed

The Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa links National Health Laboratory Service and private COVID-19 testing laboratories to academic sequencing centres. This collaboration has allowed South African experts to rapidly generate and analyse sequence data to inform regional and national responses.

As of late August 2021 the delta variant accounted for over 90% of sequences in Southern Africa. But virus evolution is ongoing, as long as the virus can spread from person to person, multiply, and be passed on. It is thus necessary to continue monitoring its evolution, to detect new problematic properties early and institute countermeasures, where possible .

 

Source: Modern Ghana

Successes of African Human Rights Court undermined by resistance from states

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights ( African Human Rights Court ) holds great promise in protecting human rights and ensuring justice on the continent. But it operates amid resistance by states and this threatens its effectiveness and very existence.

The idea of a regional human rights court surfaced at the 1961 African Conference on the Rule of Law held in Lagos, Nigeria. African jurists at the conference called on African governments to create “a court of appropriate jurisdiction” that would be “available for all persons under the jurisdiction of the signatory states”. Four and a half decades later, an operational regional court became reality.

The court is the African Union’s judicial arm, and sits in Arusha, Tanzania. It is one of three regional human rights courts in the world. The others are the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights . They play an important role in protecting human rights within their respective regions.

The African court was established in terms of a protocol adopted in 1998. It began operating 15 years ago in 2006. In this way, African states have created an avenue for judicial scrutiny of their domestic laws and executive actions that have an impact on human rights.

The court entertains cases of alleged violations of human rights stated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights , and any other relevant human rights instruments that have been ratified by the state concerned. Its remedies include payment of fair compensation or reparations. Its judgments are binding on the concerned state.

The court can also give opinions which are “advisory” in nature but carry significant legal authority because it is an apex regional court.

Cases can only be brought against states that are party to the court’s protocol. States that are party to the protocol, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and African intergovernmental organisations can bring cases to the court directly. NGOs with observer status at the commission and individuals can only access the court directly if the relevant state party permits them to do so. Otherwise, individuals and NGOs can only access the court if the African Commission takes their case to the court.

Requests for advisory opinions can be submitted by the African Union or its members or organs, or African organisations that it recognises.

But, sadly, the African Human Rights Court’s success in protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law is undermined by state resistance. This has been evident as far back as the early years of the court’s establishment.

Striking a blow for human rights

Despite current restrictions on direct access to the court, it has lived up to its promise in most cases. It has issued some progressive and ground-breaking decisions and remedies, including substantial reparations.

For example, it found, in response to a request brought by the Pan African Lawyers Union that vagrancy laws, which many African Union member states retain on their statute books, were incompatible with African human rights standards . That’s because the laws criminalise poverty, homelessness or unemployment. The court has called on states to review and amend or repeal such laws.

The court has also required states to uphold rights and principles of fairness, transparency and inclusiveness in elections during the COVID-19 pandemic . States should not use the postponement of elections to “unduly” prolong elected officials’ term of office.

In contentious cases, the court has enforced various rights such as fair trial rights, the right to property as well as the right to participate freely in government, freedom of association, freedom of expression and non-discrimination.

It has made it clear in a case against Kenya, for example, that environmental conservation and development policies cannot be at the expense of the rights of indigenous communities . It has also shown, in a case involving a Tanzanian individual, that it will not defer to states on difficult issues such as nationality .

The court has enforced marriage and inheritance rights in a case against Mali, highlighting the rights of women and girls.

In a case involving Tanzanians who had been sentenced to death, it affirmed states’ obligation to remove mandatory death penalty from their laws.

It has also set a precedent for non-criminalisation of defamation , in a case involving a journalist in Burkina Faso.

Constraints

Only 31 of 55 African Union member states (including Western Sahara) have ratified the court’s protocol . Only six states – Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, and Tunisia – permit individuals and NGOs direct access to the court.

In addition, some countries have withdrawn their permission for individuals and NGOs to access the court, following adverse decisions against them – Rwanda, Tanzania, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire .

By so doing, the states are not only challenging the court’s authority, but preventing it from considering future claims from individuals and NGOs against them.

The court is concerned that, should the withdrawals trend continue, millions of citizens will be deprived of the right to justice.

Also, the nomination of judges in the early years was met with resistance .

States have further failed to ensure that the court has enough human and financial resources to function effectively.

These patterns of resistance “might be seen as hindering development of the Court’s authority”.

Compliance crisis

The court has a serious non-compliance crisis. About 75% of states do not comply with its decisions, and there are no built-in consequences in its protocol. The court’s orders indicate that states that fail to pay reparation amounts within a stipulated timeframe will pay interest on arrears. Only one country – Burkina Faso – has fully complied with the court’s judgments.

Some states, such as Tanzania, have complied with only some aspects of decisions, and ignored other aspects .

The court is concerned that resistance to its decisions threatens not just “the effective discharge of its mandate, but its very existence”.

Future sustainability

The very poor level of compliance has limited the potential impact of the court’s decisions at the domestic level. It is crucial that African countries translate their commitment to human rights on paper into practice.

It is important for the court to stay the course. Retrogression, for fear of risking further exits, is not an option when it comes to protecting human rights.

 

Source: Modern Ghana