Dec 152014

KAMPALA, Uganda, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Vantage Capital (“Vantage”) (, Africa’s leading mezzanine debt provider, today announced it has provided $10m of funding to Simba Properties Investment Company (“Simba Properties”), the property investment arm of Simba Group in Uganda which houses five prime property developments in Uganda, three of which are operating and two of which are under development.


The three operating properties, which are all located in the upmarket suburb of Kololo in Kampala, are:

-Protea Hotel Kampala: a four star, 70 bed luxury hotel which has been operational since 2007 and has won World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2010/11/12/13 and Africa Luxury Business Hotel Award in 2013 in Uganda (picture:;

-CNOOC Building: a five storey office block which has been operational since end of 2011 and which is leased to blue chip companies operating in Uganda (picture;

-Elizabeth Royal Apartments: 30 high end apartments which Simba Group started leasing out from August 2013 and which are leased to foreign multinationals for use by their expatriates (picture

The two properties under development are:

-Hotel Naguru: a four star, 140 bed luxury hotel on top of Naguru Hill (another prime location in Kampala) which is anticipated to be operational in Q4 2015 (picture;

-Moyo Close Apartments: 14 high end apartments located in Kololo which are anticipated to be completed in Q1 2015 (picture

In addition to property, the Simba Group has business interests in telecom (Simba Telecom), energy (Electro-Maxx and True North Power), agriculture (Simba Farms), mining (gold) and other industries (such as Simba Electronics, Simba Travel Care and Zuku TV). Simba Group was started by the husband and wife team of Patrick and Carol Bitature in 1998 and has grown into one of the leading domestic investment groups in Uganda.

Patrick Bitature, the Founder and Chairman of Simba Group said, “Vantage brings an important and exciting new model of financing to the East African region. Simba Group is pleased to have found a strong mezzanine financing partner who provides medium-term growth capital but does not want to take our hard earned equity.”

Mokgome Mogoba, Associate Partner at Vantage, said “We are proud to have invested with the Simba Group, a leading and influential group of companies in Uganda with a strong commitment to the country and to the East African region.”

Warren van der Merwe, Chief Operating Officer at Vantage, added “Simba has managed to build an impressive and successful group of businesses, through a combination of entrepreneurial flair and highly professional management. Theirs is the kind of story that underpins our Pan African investment strategy of supporting mid-market family-owned businesses that are seeking to raise growth capital without having to dilute their shareholding. This is the kind of Group we would like to back in future transactions.”

The investment in Simba Properties follows Vantage’s pan-African strategy of focusing on high-growth African markets such as the East African Community members, Ghana, Nigeria, and some of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Simba Properties is Vantage’s first investment in Uganda and the twelfth mezzanine transaction in Vantage’s second fund, which is now more than 85% invested. Vantage has commenced the raising of its third mezzanine fund, which is targeted to close by the first quarter of 2015 at $250 million.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Vantage Capital.

About Simba Group

Simba Group ( is an East African conglomerate with business interests in telecom, energy, property, agriculture, mining and other industries. It was started by Patrick and Carol Bitature in 1998 with an objective of becoming the largest mobile phone retailer and airtime distributor in East Africa. Since accomplishing that goal, Simba Group has gone on to become one of the largest most respected companies in East Africa. The Group has recently founded the first indigenous independent power plant in Africa and is focused on starting and growing businesses which improve the infrastructure and livelihoods of East Africans.

About Vantage Capital

Vantage Capital Group ( was established in 2001 with funds under management of $14 million (R150 million) and now currently manages over $450 million (R5 billion). In addition to managing technology, mezzanine debt and renewable energy debt funds, Vantage also provides advisory and origination services through its debt capital markets division and makes proprietary investments using its balance sheet capital.

Capital for the Vantage Mezzanine and Vantage GreenX funds has been sourced from over thirty institutions including many leading African pension funds like the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in South Africa and the Debswana Pension Fund in Botswana, development funders such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Norwegian Fund for Development (Norfund), and private sector endowments such as the Kellogg Foundation from the United States.

Vantage has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town and in addition to its home market in South Africa, targets debt opportunities in a number of high-growth African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. Mezzanine is an intermediate form of risk capital, which is situated between senior debt, the least risky tranche of the capital structure, and equity, the most risky. It combines elements of both debt and equity thereby providing companies with long-term funding on terms which are less dilutive to shareholders than pure equity.

For more information please contact:

Warren van der Merwe

Chief Operating Officer – Vantage Capital

Tel: +27 11 530 9106

Mokgome Mogoba

Associate Partner – Vantage Capital

Tel: +27 11 530 9133

Diana Njuguna

Associate – Vantage Capital

Tel: +27 11 530 9131

Dec 152014

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) Steering Committee, the Global Green Growth Institute, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Environment Program, and the World Bank, appoints Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL a member of GGKP’s Advisory Committee.


Photo Kevin Urama:

Nigerian born, Professor Kevin Urama, the distinguished academic and economist will shortly take a seat on the steering committee of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP). Recently appointed the Inaugural Managing Director of the groundbreaking Quantum Global Research Lab (QGRL) (, Professor Urama gained a First Class Honors degree and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a Master of Philosophy in Land Economy with a Distinction and a Ph.D., with a prize for the most outstanding thesis in economics and related subjects, from St. Edmund’s College of the UK’s University of Cambridge. He was named the Technology Executive of the Year by the Africa Technology Awards in 2012 and is an extraordinary and adjunct Professor at the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy, the University of Murdoch, Western Australia, respectively. He is also a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and member of several intergovernmental and international scientific panels.

Founded by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Bank, the GGKP has a global partnership of over 30 international organizations, research institutes and think tanks. The GGKP helps to identify major knowledge gaps in green growth theory and practice and address those gaps by promoting collaboration and coordinated research; and using world-class knowledge management and communications tools to give practitioners and policymakers the analysis, guidance, tools and data necessary to support a green economy transition. Read more:

Welcoming the appointment Quantum Global Research Lab Founder Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais said,

“We are delighted for Kevin and proud of his appointment to this important advisory committee of this important global knowledge platform. He is a world class academic with a remarkable body of work; a man who embraces our vision of supporting African Sovereigns for sustainable investments and inclusive development, for the good of Africa, its people and the world in general”.

“I am especially pleased that Kevin’s news follows the announcement we made last week regarding the appointment of one of our pro-bono Advisory Board members, Dr Célestin Monga – another distinguished economist and academic –to a top UN role in Vienna.”

Responding to his appointment Professor Urama, commented.

“I am honored and privileged to receive this invitation to serve on the GGKP’s Advisory Committee. I am also grateful to the Chair of Quantum Global Research Lab for permitting me to accept this invitation to join the steering committee”.

“My ambitions are what they have always been: to make a significant and novel contribution to re-thinking the economics of development and facilitate transition to more inclusive, sustainable and equitable development for the benefit of humankind, our society and the environment. I pray that I am able to add value where I can and support the efforts of those who work in this important field, so that together, we can build a more sustainable world”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Quantum Global Research Lab.

For media enquiries please contact:

Group Head of Communications, Mark Morley Tel: +41 798707039

About Quantum Global Research Lab

The Quantum Global Group Research Lab is an independent research partner to African Sovereigns, established in Switzerland to advance original thinking and novel insights on the economics of inclusive development in Africa. It leads innovation and excellence in the delivery of bottom-up econometric models of African economies that are embedded in African realities as tools for inclusive economic development policy and sustainable investment decision making in Africa. Read More: http:/

Professor Kevin Urama

Prof. Kevin Chika Urama holds a First Class Honors degree and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also gained a Master of Philosophy degree, with distinction, and a Ph.D. in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. A 2002-3 winner of the James Claydon Prize for the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in economics or related subjects while studying at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge; he was most recently the Executive Director of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). Prof. Urama was named the Technology Executive of the Year by the Africa Technology Awards in 2012. An Extra-Ordinary Professor in the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Professor Urama is also an Adjunct Professor at the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, University of Murdoch, Western Australia, and a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). He serves on several international and intergovernmental scientific panels, advisory boards, and editorial boards of scientific journals, and has published on various subjects of economics, public policy and innovation.

Dec 152014

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday highlighted the “dreadful” situation of civilians in South Sudan, who are victims of targeted killings, looting and violence, and have been surviving in increasingly desperate living conditions since the conflict broke out a year ago today.

Zeid warned that there were deeply worrying indications that fighting would intensify now that the dry season had begun, and urged all parties to practice restraint, engage in meaningful dialogue and work to restore calm.

“The people of South Sudan are living in a tinderbox, with emotions high, an abundant flow of weapons and with both sides recruiting fighters, often forcefully and including children,” the High Commissioner said. “Inflammatory rhetoric is also on the rise and there has been sporadic fighting in which civilians have been killed and displaced and their property looted.”

“Talks are set to resume this week and I urge both sides to use the talks to restore calm and avert another human catastrophe in the country.”

Zeid said there were daily reports of fighting and skirmishes, and while there has not been the large-scale fighting that occurred before the start of the rainy season, even small-scale skirmishes frequently result in the killing of numerous civilians. The high level of mistrust within and between communities, based on perceived support for either the Government or the opposition, means that violence is easily triggered.

“Reports of gross abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law are all too common in the current conflict, and there is a disturbing pattern in which civilians are targeted and killed during hostilities for perceived or actual affiliation with a group different to the armed element in control,” he said.

The High Commissioner also highlighted the dire humanitarian situation of the large number of internally displaced people. According to latest UN figures, there are 1.4 million displaced within the country, and another half a million taking refuge in neighbouring countries. More than 97,000 people remain in compounds of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in very difficult conditions.

“The hopelessness in the camps of internally displaced people is palpable,” Zeid said. “These are women, men and children who spend their days in terrible conditions – at the height of the rainy season, they sometimes had to wade through waist-deep mud. Children have not gone to school for a year now, and may not be able to for a long time. Healthcare is basic at best. They have no freedom of movement, and live in dread, with violence always just around the corner.”

“Even after the conflict ends, it will take months – if not years – for these families to be able to bring a semblance of normalcy to their lives. Their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. They have missed the planting season. They have witnessed and experienced violence. The conflict has already taken a very heavy toll on civilians – it is time for both sides to acknowledge this needless suffering, and to make a serious, concerted effort to bring it to an end, without further delay or prevarication.”

Zeid also called on political leaders to make clear, unequivocal public statements that the targeting of civilians is not permitted and will not be tolerated. He stressed that justice and accountability for gross human rights violations will be an essential component of any peace plan if peace is to be sustainable.

“Impunity emboldens the perpetrators of abuses – and has most likely accentuated the brazen nature of the human rights violations that have occurred during this conflict,” he said. “It is crucial that justice and accountability are visibly made a top priority.”

Dec 152014

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The traditional mad holiday rush is upon us and businesses – especially those in retail – need to ensure that a high level of service delivery is maintained and that they are geared to handle the additional enquiries driven by the sudden upsurge in customers.


Photo Sumesh Rahavendra: (Sumesh Rahavendra, head of marketing for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa)

This is according to Sumesh Rahavendra, Head of Marketing for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa (, who says that the holiday season puts added pressure on businesses to deliver consistent service quality, and, if not managed correctly, could consume valuable time that could have been spent on maximising sales.

Rahavendra points to recent findings from the business consulting firm Lee Resources, which indicated that one of the main reasons for customer unhappiness is bad service delivery. Findings also indicated that 91% of unhappy customers will also not willingly make use of the service provider again. He says that to ensure a positive customer experience with a brand, a robust customer service platform is needed. “Not only will this ensure that customer needs are met across all touch points but it will also empower brand representatives to be able to deal with difficult situations, in an effective manner.”

Rahavendra points to a few key tips to accelerate the customer service experience during the busy holiday period:

Make sure that your employees are emotionally engaged:

The festive season is not only stressful for consumers, but also for the employees who are providing the service. An employee who simply smiles at a customer (face to face or even while interacting telephonically) can have a significant impact on the customer’s perception of their experience. This is especially important for businesses that have sizeable contact centres – A customer should receive friendly and consistent service quality, irrespective of the representative that they are dealing with.

Embrace new media:

With the rise of social media, the customer service experience can either be amplified or hindered. Business should ensure they have allocated sufficient time and resources to ensure that social media channels are monitored throughout the day and response times and query resolutions should be closely managed. Should a negative issue arise, where possible, the query should be dealt with offline and with the client directly. All social queries should however be acknowledged online.

A number of brands choose to disable posts to their Facebook pages as there is no control as to what is posted. We believe in transparency and immediate feedback, so the only content that would be removed is defamatory or explicit content. Having an active social media presence is a fantastic way to keep in touch with customers, in real-time, as they spend much of their time online. It keeps the lines of communication open and is, most importantly, convenient for customers to make contact with your brand.

Transparent escalation procedures:

As the end of the year nears, it adds pressure to the turn-around time expected for query resolution. Customers should be able to access various escalation channels easily. In a traditional bricks and mortar retail space, senior and empowered managers should be on the floor at all times to diffuse difficult situations immediately. In the online or corporate space, access to senior managers should be clearly defined so that customers do not have the added frustration of trying to track down someone who can assist them.

For example, we introduced a best in class feature to our website which we refer to as Straight to the Top (STTT) – This allows the customer to have access to the whole DHL Express Senior management team up to and including the Africa regional team that is the Africa Management Board. It’s all about accessibility and speed of query resolutions.

“Being insanely customer centric is our mantra as we believe that a customer’s experience and perception of a brand has significant influence not only on whether they will become a loyal, repeat customer, but also on how they promote the company to other potential customers. Great service quality therefore plays a significant role in a business’s bottom line,” says Rahavendra.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Deutsche Post DHL.

Media Contact:

Megan Collinicos. Head: Advertising & Public Relations, Sub-Saharan Africa

DHL Express

Tel +27 21 409 3613 Mobile +27 76 411 8570

DHL – The logistics company for the world

DHL ( is the global market leader in the logistics and transportation industry and “The logistics company for the world”. DHL commits its expertise in international express, national and international parcel delivery, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation as well as contract and e-commerce related solutions along the entire supply chain. A global network composed of more than 220 countries and territories and around 315,000 employees worldwide offers customers superior service quality and local knowledge to satisfy their shipping and supply chain requirements. DHL accepts its social responsibility by supporting environmental protection, disaster management and education.

Stock images available:

Dec 152014

NAIROBI, Kenya, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Sudanese government forces and allied militias are unlawfully killing and otherwise abusing civilians in government-held areas in Sudan’s Blue Nile state, Human Rights Watch said today. Dozens of civilians who fled the government held areas and sought refuge in South Sudan described killings, rapes, and beatings to Human Rights Watch.

Accounts by refugees from Blue Nile who arrived recently in South Sudan and were interviewed by Human Rights Watch provide a rare glimpse into conditions of life under government control and point to clear patterns of abuse, including sexual violence.

“Entire communities are trapped in camp-like conditions behind government lines, terrorized by government forces,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “In addition to indiscriminate bombing, Sudanese government forces are getting away with abusive and illegal tactics under a guise of counterinsurgency, including rape, arbitrary detentions, and killings.”

Among the refugees Human Rights Watch interviewed, five said they were raped by members of government security forces or armed militia, and twelve said relatives had been raped. Some women said security forces detained them, then took them away and raped them. Refugees also reported being detained and subjected to ill-treatment and torture. Most of the reported incidents took place within the past year.

Since conflict erupted in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in 2011, civilians living in the rebel-held areas of both states have borne the brunt of Sudan’s indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks that have killed and maimed civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands of people. But there has been little information about conditions in government-held areas in both states as Sudan has not allowed human rights investigators access.

During a five-day research trip in November 2014, Human Rights Watch researchers interviewed 42 refugees in South Sudan’s Maban County, and six internally displaced people inside Blue Nile state. The refugees, including 17 women and girls, had recently fled abusive treatment in government towns or villages.

The vast majority were Ingessana, the ethnic group of Malik Agar, the commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-North), the main rebel group fighting the Sudanese government. The Ingessana appear to have been targeted because of their perceived support for the rebels. They had fled their homes during the night – in some cases leaving some children and family members behind – and walked more than 150 kilometers with little food or water to reach South Sudan, arriving in late October or early November.

Almost half of the refugees said they had experienced sexual violence themselves, have an immediate family member or neighbor who had, or had witnessed sexual assaults. Sexual violence occurred during home raids or house-to-house searches by security forces.

“They raped me one after the other and they beat me,” said Hawa, 20, who was raped by soldiers following her arrest at a market in the small town of Musfa earlier in 2014. “I tried to resist and they pulled me to the ground and [when they were finished] they left me.” She lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital in the state capital, Damazin, where she remained for 10 days, she said.

Several relatives of rape survivors said they were beaten up, threatened, or turned away when they tried to report the rapes to local authorities, police, or army officials.

“The number of rapes reported to us, often in harrowing detail, suggests that sexual violence is part of the government’s counterinsurgency strategy,” Bekele said. “The scale of reported abuses points to the urgent need for an international investigation in both rebel- and government-controlled areas.”

Given the scope and persistent nature of the human rights and humanitarian law violations by government forces across Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan since 2011, the United Nations Security Council should immediately establish an international commission of inquiry and impose an arms embargo against the Sudanese government and individual sanctions against human rights violators from all parties. The African Union should support these steps or establish an inquiry of its own, Human Rights Watch said.

Many refugees said they or their relatives were beaten or detained, including when they tried to leave the government-controlled towns or villages. Some of the men who had been detained said that government authorities tried to force them to join the Sudanese army; several described severe beatings and torture by security forces. One 21-year-old farmer who was detained with 13 other men said two of them died from beatings in custody.

The refugees attributed most of the abuses to Sudanese forces, including its Rapid Support Force (RSF), a new security force under the command of Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services. The RSF has carried out attacks on civilians in Darfur and Southern Kordofan over the last year. Many of the refugees also described rapes, killings, harassment, and cattle theft by a militia drawn from the Fellata – a nomadic ethnic group whose members the Sudanese government has recruited into auxiliary forces since conflict erupted in Blue Nile.

“Under Russian and Chinese pressure, the UN Security Council hasn’t delivered on its threat of sanctions, and has left persecuted civilians across Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan to fend for themselves,” said Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch. “The Security Council should wake up to the tragedy unfolding in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, verify the facts, and impose both an arms embargo on the government and targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for the abuses.”

Dec 152014

OTTAWA, Canada, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Honourable Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, today issued the following statement:

“As the first anniversary of a horrifying outbreak of violence in South Sudan approaches, Canadians—including the many members of the South Sudanese diaspora who have made our country their new home—will remember the thousands who died at that time and those who continue to suffer in a senseless conflict that has gone on far too long.

“Canada calls upon the parties to the negotiations currently being sponsored by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Addis Ababa to renew their efforts and to make the courageous decisions and compromises that will be needed if South Sudan is to live at peace with itself once again. History will not forgive those who procrastinate or argue for further military action at this time; South Sudanese of all ethnic groups and political persuasions expect greater things of their leaders.

“There could be no better gift to the people of South Sudan than a ceasefire that is respected on all sides and a sustainable peace agreement.”

Dec 122014

ACCRA, Ghana, December 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On behalf of the French Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Frederic Clavier, Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud CREZE, French Liaison Officer to Ghana, handed over some materials to Colonel DK Mensah, Director of Education at Burma Camp. The material amounts 14.000 dollars and will equip the six French Language Teaching centers. The ceremony took place at Burma Camp on Thursday 11th December.

The ceremony was also the opportunity for Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud CREZE and Majdah RACHIQ, Coordinator for French Teaching in Ghana, to reaffirm Ghana and France mutual will to develop French Language teaching in Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), and also to express their “sincere appreciation to the Military High command, the Director of Education and Instructors of the various French Language centers for their hard work and dedication to duties over the years”. On behalf of Chief of Defense Staff; Vice Admiral M Quashie, Colonel DK Mensah thanked the French government for the support.

The project Teaching French in the militaryis the result of the military cooperation between France and Ghana. It aims at encouraging and promoting the use of French language in the Ghana Armed Forces to facilitate their engagement alongside with the Armed Forces of the francophone countries, particularly as part of the peace keeping operations. Lieutenant Colonel Creze urged the personnel of GAF to “take the study of French language very seriously to enhance their capacity to work with their francophone counterparts”.

The project was initiatedin 2004 and allowed the setting-up of sixspecialized centers(in Burma Camp, MATS SOE and GMA cadets in Accra (Military Academy and Training School), Tamale, Kumasi, Sekondi).Every year, more than 150 students benefit from this training. France gives support to the teaching programme with pedagogical, material and training follow-up for instructors and military students. Teachers’ training is also completed in France at the CIFR (Regional Training Center for Joint forces in Rochefort). A specific course book have been designed by France to meet with the specific needs in terms of French Learning for the Military forces engaged in peace keeping operations. At the end of sessions, all students go through the certification exam DELF/DALF to provide them with a subsequent international recognition of their knowledge level in French.

Details of materials handed over:

- 100 coursebooks En avant 1

- 100 coursebooks En avant 2

- 46 books for Pedagogical French Language Teaching

- 3 Centers equipped with Internet Access

- 4 Centers equipped with French TV Channels

- 8 fully furnished computers for students

- 5 whiteboards

- 11 UPS

- 2 DVD players

- 1 printer

Dec 122014

ABUJA, Nigeria, December 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United States condemns in the strongest terms the December 11 twin bombing attack in the central Nigerian city of Jos that killed dozens of people and injured scores more.

Dec 122014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 12, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Merck (, a leading company for innovative and top-quality, high-tech products in the pharmaceutical, chemical and life science sectors, today announced that Ethiopia will receive around 13 million praziquantel tablets in 2015. Merck supports the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight the parasitic worm disease schistosomiasis in Africa. Praziquantel is the most effective treatment for schistosomiasis.


According to WHO, Ethiopia is one of the most endemic countries for schistosomiasis in the world. It is estimated that around 22 million people, which is more than 20% of the entire population, requires treatment. Since the start of the program around 1.4 million patients, primarily children, have been treated. “We have committed to continuing our efforts in Africa, in cooperation with WHO, until schistosomiasis is eliminated. In order to fulfill this commitment, we will donate 100 million praziquantel tablets to African countries in 2015. Ethiopia will be one of the main beneficiaries of this donation”, said Frank Gotthardt, Head of Public Affairs at Merck and responsible for the Merck Praziquantel Donation Program.

Yesterday, the first meeting of the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance took place at the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa. “This alliance will allow the different constituencies to engage in a coordinated approach to better address the challenges of meeting the elimination target”, commented Gotthardt. The round table discussions and first global schistosomiasis meeting took place during the neglected tropical diseases week being hosted by the Ethiopian government from December 8 to 12.

The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program was launched in 2007. Since then, more than 200 million tablets have been supplied and over 54 million children have been treated. Between 2011 and 2014, Merck’s annual donation has grown from 25 to about 75 million tablets. At the beginning of 2012, Merck announced that it will fight schistosomiasis until the disease has been eliminated in Africa. To reach this goal, the company will increase the annual donation of tablets up to 250 million in the medium term. The further scale-up of the program will allow the treatment of about 100 million children a year. The expanded Merck Praziquantel Donation Program will result in a financial commitment totaling around USD 23 million a year. In addition, Merck is also supporting awareness initiatives at African schools to explain the causes of schistosomiasis to children and teach them how to prevent the disease. Furthermore, Merck is conducting research on a pediatric formulation of praziquantel for preschool children within the scope of a public-private partnership. So far, praziquantel tablets can only be administered to children over the age of six.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Merck KGaA.

Media contact:

Willemijn Zaadnoordijk

Phone : +41 79 593 1741

More information on the fight against schistosomiasis can be found on the Merck website:

Merck ( is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical, chemical and life science sectors. With its four divisions Merck Millipore, Merck Serono, Performance Materials and Consumer Health, Merck generated total revenues of € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 39,000 Merck employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.