Daily Archives: May 22, 2017

Leading Chinese Social Platform QQ Launches QQ X Project, Recruiting Earth Explorers Worldwide

BEIJING, May 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — QQ, the instant messaging service owned and operated by leading Chinese internet firm Tencent Holdings, announced the QQ X Project on May 22, 2017. With the project, QQ will recruit the Earth Explorers worldwide to travel, free of charge, throughout the world with QQ, with the task of undertaking exploration missions and sharing their findings and experiences with internet users worldwide.

QQ X program formally launched in Beijing

The QQ X Project will make stops in the Galapagos Islands, Namibia, the South Pacific and Antarctica. Any Chinese citizen aged 18 and over can apply to the project by uploading their video entries onto the special page dedicated to the project on QQ Kandian, QQ’s content distribution platform with their smartphones. Winning entries will then be selected through an open audition with Chinese internet users acting as the judges.

Li Dan, general manager of marketing for Tencent’s Social Network Group, said that each destination of the journey has a dedicated theme, “Species for the Galapagos Islands”, “Starry Sky for Namibia”, “Ocean for the South Pacific” and “Polar Regions for Antarctica”, as each destination varies in terms of the mission, the technologies being applied and the purpose. Yet, taken as a whole, the four destinations share the vision of paving the way for young people who dream of exploring the world and of making that dream come true for them.

Xian Yecheng, general manager of the IM Product Department at Tencent, explained that with the QQ X Project, Tencent aims to transform its augmented reality, artificial intelligence as well as its audio and video capabilities and NOW live streaming, among other advanced technologies, into a new tool that assists young people, who are active members of today’s networked world, in exploring our great planet, and encourage them to rediscover the beauty of the real world.

The project has also received support from the Embassy of Ecuador in China, the Embassy of Namibia in China, Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, China Ocean Mineral Resources R&D Association, the Charles Darwin Research Institute and the World Wildlife Fund, among others.

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/514527/QQ_X_Project.jpg

As Ethiopian Seeks to Head WHO, Outbreak at Home Raises Questions

WASHINGTON Ethiopia is battling an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) that has affected more than 32,000 people. At the same time, Ethiopia’s former minister of health, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is a candidate to lead the World Health Organization.

The two facts are linked in that critics of Tedros say he has tried to minimize the outbreak by refusing to classify it as cholera, a label that could harm Ethiopia’s economic growth.

The WHO’s 194 member states will gather in Geneva for a 10-day assembly starting Monday. One of their first tasks is to choose the organization’s next director-general.

Tedros is one of three top contenders for the position, along with candidates from Britain and Pakistan.

Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, told The New York Times that Ethiopia has a long history of downplaying cholera outbreaks, and the WHO could lose its legitimacy if Tedros, who is also a former Ethiopian minister of foreign affairs, takes over the leadership of the organization.

Dr. Tedros is a compassionate and highly competent public health official, he told the Times. But he had a duty to speak truth to power and to honestly identify and report verified cholera outbreaks over an extended period.

But others have risen to Tedros’ defense. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the controversy over naming the outbreak is overblown. During the time that Tedros was health minister, it would have not made any difference, Frieden told VOA.

Cholera vs. acute watery diarrhea

Ethiopia has been accused of covering up three cholera outbreaks during Tedros’ tenure as health minister.

Declaring cholera would not have changed Ethiopia’s response to past AWD outbreaks, according to Frieden. In fact, he says, avoiding the cholera label has not been irresponsible but rather a necessary compromise.

It allowed public health to respond rapidly,” Frieden said.

The literature on AWD and cholera shows that treatment is the same. It calls for hydrating the patient, chlorinating water and improving sanitation. In fact, the WHO uses the terms interchangeably in their teaching materials on how to deal with an outbreak.

Lately, the development of cholera vaccines has brought the value of identifying the bacterial disease to the fore, said Frieden. At this time, all African countries that report acute watery diarrhea should be rapidly doing lab confirmation and, if it’s cholera, considering the use of cholera vaccine in the response, he said.

In the current outbreak, Ethiopia’s Somali region has been hit the hardest, with 768 deaths since January, according to a WHO report published May 12. Almost 99 percent of the deaths and 91 percent of cases are in the same region.

The WHO representative to Ethiopia, Dr. Akpaka Kalu, says the government is right to call it AWD because regional health centers do not have the capacity to test every case.

If all cases are treated as cholera, the disease has the potential to spread more quickly when children who do not have it are brought into cholera treatment centers, Kalu said.

We know, biologically, malnutrition causes diarrhea. Now, if you admit that child into a cholera treatment center, you’ve actually turned that center into a cholera transmission center, he said, speaking by phone from Addis Ababa.

Current response

Over the past six weeks, the response to AWD in Ethiopia appears to have been effective.

Kalu said his team, along with regional leadership and government officials, have focused on prevention and intervention. They have instituted community-based surveillance to monitor the regional drought in general and AWD in particular, and there has been a drop in reported cases.

We have evidence the average number of cases [dropped] from over 600 a day to about 54 a day, he said.

Kalu argues that early interventions are getting results and doesn’t think that vaccinating 6 million people in the Somali region is feasible.

He says Ethiopia is now preparing to prevent outbreaks from spreading to other parts of the country such as the Afar and Amhara regions as the rainy season approaches.

We need to enhance preparedness because, as the rains come, usually what happens is the rains wash and enter the water bodies including where there is open defecation, he said. That’s how water bodies get contaminated and people use the water and become sick. So there is a need, our focus is to build capacity to be able to detect and contain so that it doesn’t spread.

Source: Voice of America


PRETORIA– Officials from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and provincial departments, as well as agencies responsible for the implementation of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are to receive training in China.

In a statement, the dti said a total of 34 SEZ practitioners and supporting sector specialists, provincial departments and agencies responsible for the implementation of the SEZ Programme will depart for Tianjin, China, on Monday.

SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says the training forms part of a five-year agreement signed between South Africa and China in 2014.

The intention of the agreement is to train about 30 officials per annum on SEZs.

The purpose of the Capacity Building Programme on the SEZ is to equip practitioners with the technical know-how on the planning, development, management and operations of special economic zones. The programme is important to ensure that all stakeholders have the technical know-how required for the successful development of the SEZs in South Africa.

One of the major challenges that government has identified in relation to the development of the SEZs as part of the implementation of our SEZ Programme is the capacity constraint, said Davies.

The officials will attend the fourth Capacity Building Programme on the SEZ taking place from May 24 to June 13.

The dti deemed it necessary to design and implement a systematic Capacity Building Programme on the SEZ in order to create a pool of skilled and trained officials who will make the implementation of the SEZ programme a success.

Despite the strong and mutually-beneficial political and economic relations that we have with China, the country is regarded as one of the best in the world when it comes to the implementation of the SEZs model. Our officials will be greatly empowered by being exposed to the zones in China and how they are managed, said the Minister.

The training covers a range of topics including planning, infrastructure development, developing investment propositions, marketing tools and channels. It also covers topics like how to deal with potential investors, stakeholder management including international alliances, public-private partnerships models, as well as financing and managing operations of the SEZ.

The SEZ Programme has been introduced to contribute to accelerating industrialisation as a necessary step towards addressing many of the country’s socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and under-development.

The objectives of the SEZ Programme include promoting targeted industrial capabilities within the framework of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), New Growth Path and the New Development Plan.

It is also aimed at promoting beneficiation and value-addition to the country’s minerals and other natural resources, as well as developing a world-class infrastructure required to support the development of the targeted industrial activities.

South Africa currently has eight Special Economic Zones, with the latest SEZ having been launched by President Jacob Zuma in the Free State, last month.


Minister Angie Motshekga briefs media ahead of Basic Education budget vote, 24 May

Minister Motshekga to address pre budget vote media briefing

Basic Education Minister Mrs Angie Motshekga will on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 brief media on developments relating to the education sector at parliaments Imbizo Centre.

Minister Motshekga will later that afternoon deliver the departments 17/18 Budget Vote in the Old Assembly Building, providing an opportunity to highlight the Departments achievements as well as how the department will carry out and fulfil its mandate as government’s apex priority.

Members of the media are invited to join the Pre Budget Vote Speech as follows.

Post CEM Media Briefing

Date: Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Time: 10h00

Venue: Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament 120 Plein Street, Cape Town

Details of the Budget Vote Speech are as follows:

Date: Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Venue: Old Assembly Building, Parliament Precinct, Cape Town

Source: Government of South Africa

Statement on allegations that GCIS employee has been suspended

GCIS has noted the reports that suggest that Ms Siyasanga Mbambani has been suspended by the department on sexual harassment charges. GCIS wishes to correct the record. Ms Mbambani is not suspended.

Source: Government of South Africa