Tag: Malawi

TECH: Rachel Sibande Founds M-Hub, Malawi’s 1st Technology Incubator

Rachel Sibande (photo via africa.com)

article via africa.com

Rachel Sibande is the founder of M-Hub, Malawi’s first technology hub. It is an incubator for technology startups with a special focus on building young tech entrepreneurs  by offering them training, skills development and mentorship. “M-Hub champions the development of technology solutions as its main lifeline. The hub invests its profits in social good programs that build capacities of children, girls and youth in developing technology applications. Ultimately, M-Hub wants to be the prime software solution provider in the nation and beyond, employing skills of young Malawians.”

Rachel’s interest in technology started in her school days when she found herself playing with different gadgets, radios and anything tech she could find. Later on, she studied computer science at Malawi’s Chancellors College and then sparked off her career as a programmer before diverting into lecturing and teaching. “Growing up I had a passion for gadgets. I was just curious on anything techy. I actually thought I would be a lab scientist. But I guess with time, my passion moved to computers.”

Still filled with a passion to use technology to change lives, Sibande then found herself working with development agencies like USAID, FICA and GIZ. It was around this time when Rachel got involved in rolling out Malawi’s first web-to-SMS service for the Malawi’s smallholder farmer industry. After seeing the impact technology was making in Malawi’s agricultural industry, Rachel then developed a conviction to grow this impact to other sectors.

M-Hub (photo via africa.com)

In 2012, While on a fellowship under Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Programme in the United States, Rachel was introduced to the concept of technology hubs. It was then that the conviction birthed a new vision, an incubator and cutting edge space that would be customized to suit the Malawian context.

“I wanted to see that there was a space where young technology enthusiasts were nurtured with technical and business skills through mentoring and facilitation of the hub and its members,” she recalls in one interview. “Youth are the future change makers and this is why special focus is put on training and mentoring youth entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts. ICT skills can equip young entrepreneurs to become job creators to decrease unemployment. More ICT projects should be coordinated and implemented to improve infrastructure development and I believe once youth are equipped with these skills, they’ll see the vision and they’ll be the driving force behind change and development. It is very important that youth know their potential and are empowered to ensure that the future prosperity of their nation and continent is secured.”

To read more, go to: Meet Rachel Sibande, Malawi’s Innovation Champion – Africa.com

How Theresa Kachindomoto, a Female Chief in Malawi, is Effectively Putting an End to Child Marriages and Sexually Abusive Traditions

Malawi Chief Theresa
Malawi Chief Theresa Kachindomoto (photo by Hannah McNeish via aljazeera.com)

“Educate a girl and you educate the whole area … You educate the world.” – Theresa Kachindomoto

article by Hadassah Egbedi via venturesafrica.com

In 2003, when Theresa Kachindomoto was called upon to leave her job of 27 years as a secretary at a city college to become a village chief in Malawi, she refused. “I said ‘No, I don’t want to be a chief,’ she told writer Hannah McNeish for AlJazeera, but the royal family insisted, asking her to pack her bags and head home to assume her position as the senior chief of Dedza district around Lake Malawi.

In obedience, the mother of five packed up and headed home to Dezda, little did she know that she would be an agent of great change in the district of over 100,000 people. Days after she arrived, Theresa was shocked to see female children as young as 12 with a husband, and children of their own.

Malawi ranks 8th out of 20 countries with the highest child-marriage rates in the world. According to a United Nations survey, more than half of Malawi’s girls are married before the age of 18. This comes as no surprise as the country only recently, in 2015, passed a legislation which changed the legal marriage age from 15 to 18 years.

Theresa immediately called for an end to child marriage, the termination of these existing marriages, and for parents to give their female children an education instead, but no one listened. Most parents said they were too poor to keep a female child, or send her to school, as it will make them poorer. A number of them felt Theresa had no right to change this tradition, especially as a mother of five boys.

If you can’t change them, change the law

Since she could not change their set mentality, Theresa opted to change the law instead. She met with 50 sub chiefs and made them sign an agreement to end child marriage under customary law, and to annul existing unions. “I said to the chiefs that this must stop, or I will dismiss them.” Four chiefs who did not adhere to the new law got dismissed for still allowing child marriage in their areas of jurisdiction. But seeing that Theresa meant business, they ensured that existing child marriages were terminated in their areas, this action got their positions reinstated.

The issue of child marriage is not just a Malawian problem, it is one that has long existed in many African countries, and including Nigeria which is one of the countries in Africa with the highest rate of child marriage, particularly in the North. Statistics show that Africa has 15 out of the 20 countries in the world with the highest rates of child marriage. And according to predictions from UNICEF, the number of child brides will double by 2050 if the current trend continues. The problems that accompany child marriages are numerous including STD’s, Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF), and death.

In Malawi, there are certain appalling traditions that encourage child marriage and subject young girls to sexual abuse. Girls from as young as age seven are sent to “Kusasa fumbi – cleansing – camps”, a camp to prepare girls for womanhood and marriage. Here, they are taught how to please men by performing titillating dances and sex acts. Some end up leaving camp disvirgined by the teacher(s); those who are not, end up being defiled anyway by men hired by their parents to take their virginity and, or impregnate them. There is also a belief that sick men can cure themselves by having sex with virgins.

In the past three years, Chief Theresa has terminated more than 850 child unions, including putting an end to sexually abusive traditions, and sending these young girls to school. Most times, she funds their education, and sometimes she gets sponsors to do so. She also has a large network of village head, men and women who’s helping her enforce these laws. Some to ensure that the girls placed in school are not pulled out.

To read full article, go to: http://venturesafrica.com/how-a-malawi-female-chief-is-effectively-ending-child-marriages-and-sexual-initiations/

Obama Allocates $300,000,000 to Fight HIV Infections in Young Women in Africa

483164436-president-barack-obama-speaks-during-an-event-at-the
President Barack Obama (PHOTO BY ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES)

In an effort to combat HIV infections in girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African nations hit hardest by the virus, the Obama administration recently announced a $300 million program to help reduce the growing numbers according to The Associated Press.

The administration hopes to see a “25 percent infection reduction in females between ages 15-24 by the end of next year and a 40 percent reduction by the end of 2017,” the report says.

“No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS,” said National Security Adviser Susan Rice of the program credited with saving millions of lives in Africa, writes The AP.

The new goals represent the next phase of the program, which was started by President George W. Bush and broadened by President Barack Obama, the report says.

The Obama administration releaased the new targets before “a U.N. summit on development goals for lifting people around the world out of poverty. Obama is scheduled to address the development meeting on Sunday,” writes The AP

About half of all new HIV infections among girls and young women last year are from the 10 countries countries targeted by the new initiatives, including Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, The AP says.

Read more at The Associated Press

article by Lynette Holloway via theroot.com

President Meets With African Leaders, Praises Continent’s Democratic Progress

Obama and African Leaders

On Thursday (March 27), President Barack Obama met with the leaders of four sub-Saharan African countries in a bid to highlight the shared democratic sentiment shared between America and the nations. Present at the meeting were President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Joyce Banda of Malawi, and Prime Minister José Maria Pereira Neves of Cape Verde.

Read more via Obama African Leaders: President Meets With African Leaders, Praises Continent’s Democratic Progress | Breaking News for Black America.

Malawi Suspends Anti-Gay Laws As Parliament Debates Repeal

Malawi’s President Joyce Banda

Malawi has suspended anti-gay laws and ordered police not to arrest people who commit homosexual acts pending a debate on whether to repeal the legislation.  President Joyce Banda’s government announced on Monday that it had imposed a moratorium on the laws until the 193-member parliament could decide on the highly contentious issue.

Continue reading “Malawi Suspends Anti-Gay Laws As Parliament Debates Repeal”