Johannesburg, June 02, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —
  • MultiChoice Group, the largest producer of original content on the African continent, is set to debut SHAKA ILEMBE, its biggest ever primetime-drama series.
  • Created by the award-winning South African Emmy and Oscar nominated team at Bomb Productions, with global star Nomzamo Mbatha taking on double billing as lead actress and Executive Producer.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed MultiChoice Group is about to debut it’s biggest ever prime-time drama series, Shaka Ilembe, an epic 12-part tale that follows the origins story of the legendary African monarch and military strategist, King Shaka. Six years in the making, the highly anticipated series boasts the talents of some of South Africa’s biggest stars, including Coming 2 America lead actress Nomzamo Mbatha.

With the epic series launching across sub-Saharan Africa on MultiChoice’s video entertainment service DStv this June, Shaka Ilembe is already attracting significant interest outside of the continent. MultiChoice Studios, the busy sales and distribution arm of the sub-Saharan business, is hard at work introducing the title to international buyers at film markets from Cannes to Los Angeles, building on a growing MultiChoice slate of original production exports including the Emmy nominated Reyka and the Deon Meyer penned Trackers.

For Nomsa Philiso, CEO of MultiChoice General Entertainment, Shaka Ilembe offers audiences worldwide the opportunity to immerse into a rich dynastic African story, set in the 1700’s.

“We are confident that this series will travel. It speaks, not only the heritage of the Zulu Nation, but to the fascination that the world has always had with King Shaka. It speaks to Africans owning the stories that their ancestors lived. And it celebrates that, long before colonialism, beyond the pages of history, there was a majestic ancient era of African Kings and Queens, warriors, healers, and leaders who lived, loved, ruled, battled, and above all, entrenched a legacy and culture that endures even today. Further, the series was filmed in isiZulu so it carries a distinct language identity, but it will be sub-titled in multiple languages so audiences from across the globe can enjoy it.”

Central to the Shaka Ilembe story is actress Nomzamo Mbatha, who balances her Executive Producer responsibilities with fulfilling a life-long ambition to play King Shaka’s beloved mother, Queen Nandi.

Speaking to her dual roles on Shaka Ilembe, Mbatha says, “This series is rich in depth, and was shot in 4K on a tremendous scale that fuels the narrative. From the fierce battlefield choreography and the meticulous accuracy of the wardrobe to the resonance of the script, it’s remarkable. And while this is a fictional story, it’s inspired by real events, people, and places. Already, ahead of our domestic launch audiences at home are very supportive because, they know like I do, that TV series like Shaka Ilembe transcends entertainment, and delivers representation, diversity, and progress.”

Mbatha leads off a top-flight ensemble cast featuring some of the country’s most charismatic leading men – Lemogang Tsipa, Senzo Radebe, Wiseman Mncube, Thembinkosi Mthembu and Mondli Makhoba alongside powerful character actresses Khabonina Qubeka, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Dawn Thandeka King and rising star Hope Mbhele. Meanwhile, playing the boy destined to be King, is gifted young newcomer Ntando Zondi whose prodigious talent was unearthed during the filming of the series.

Filmed in South Africa, SHAKA ILEMBE features much of the country’s magnificent wildlife and scenery, including the mountains, savanna, and coastline of the lushly beautiful province of KwaZulu Natal, home to the majority of South Africa’s Zulu people. Key filming locations here included the towns of Eshowe, Nkandla Forest, Port Edward, Drakensburg, Mooi River and Zulu Falls.

Meanwhile other parts of the series were shot on a purpose-built backlot near the UNESCO World Heritage Site “The Cradle of Humankind” where Emmy and Academy nominated showrunners Bomb Productions hosted the King of the Zulu Nation, His Excellency Misuzulu kaZwelithini, during a special visit to the set for the Royal to see first-hand the level of detail and care that was employed to ensure that the authenticity of the set.

For Mauro Black, MultiChoice Studios Content, Sales, and Distributions Director, it is this credibility of intention and execution that makes SHAKA ILEMBE a powerful cultural export.

“International buyers are discerning about what they will bring their local audiences from the global TV marketplace. So, from inception, SHAKA ILEMBE was crafted to weld an immense depth of oral, written and illustrated Zulu history into the framework of a highly watchable prime-time drama. The result is a deeply meaningful but profoundly enjoyable title that should win fans in markets as diverse as Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.”

With over 8000 people contributing their skills to create Shaka Ilembe, the series has already won the support of five of South Africa’s biggest brands (Telkom, LottoStar, Grant’s Whisky, Toyota SA and Santam) who all signed on as commercial partners within days of seeing an extended preview of the series.  In addition, it’s Academy Award and BAFTA nominated Creative Director Angus Gibson and Sundance winning Executive Producer Desiree Markgraaff have drawn from the best of South Africa’s talent, including acclaimed Zulu musician Mbuso Khoza whose skill and vision drives the series soundtrack.


Elizabeth Ferreira 
MultiChoice Group Ltd

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8851223


Lebanon’s Ministry of Environment (MoE) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) published a new study to explore the environmental challenges and economic losses caused by the poorly managed quarrying sector in Lebanon. The study is part of the collaborative effort between MoE and UNDP, to promote accountability and transparency, environmental protection and sustainable development. The study on the quarrying sector’s dues to the National Treasury in Lebanon comes after years of exploitation and illegal extraction of public goods. If better managed and improved, this sector provides an opportunity to generate much-needed revenue to support the country’s economic recovery. This first ever comprehensive study on the quarrying sector dues quantifies the damage caused by the quarrying sector and finds that a minimum of 2.39 billion USD are due to the National Treasury. This figure includes the regulatory and fiscal costs, as well as compensation for environmental degradation and rehabilitation. With a volume of 196.87 million m3, a total of slightly more than 15 million m2 of land surface area was exploited, which is nearly equivalent to 75% of Beirut’s area. If well managed, the collection of these dues will not only fund social and environmental initiatives but also enhance monitoring and enforcement, promoting responsible quarrying practices. The integrated management of Lebanon’s natural resources, including its quarries, will also have a positive impact on the country’s economy in the long term, contributing to sustainable development and helping to safeguard the natural heritage of the country. This means an approach that includes environmental, economic, social, and governance dimensions for a comprehensive and effective management of the country’s resources. “The study will help us to reinstate the rule of law, particularly in the quarrying sector organized by virtue of decree 8803/2002 and its amendments as well as subsequent regulations, such as decree 6569/2020 and the Council of Ministers Resolution 45 of 21 March 2019 adopting the policy on the integrated management of the quarrying sector. It will set the first real step in collecting much needed revenues to the Lebanese state from a sector that has been historically marred by corruption and illegal enrichment” H.E. Nasser Yassin, Minister of Environment in Lebanon. “This study is not only significant for understanding the impact of the quarrying sector on the environment, public health, and economy, but also for achieving the objectives of reinstating the rule of law, accounting for externalities in calculating all costs, and preventing further degradation of the environment” Melanie Hauenstein, UNDP Resident Representative in Lebanon. The study builds upon the research conducted by the Lebanese Armed Forces, which encompassed an extensive survey of over 1,230 quarries. These quarries were specifically chosen to represent extreme instances of environmental degradation, marked by significant alterations to landforms, damage to ecosystems, pollution of water resources, and unsustainable resource extraction practices. The database includes valuable information on coordinates, area, volume, ownership, type of material extracted (gravel or sand or rock, etc), and sometimes operators. The type of information presented in the database and in the study will be used for licensing future extraction activities, monitoring, and rehabilitation. This will prevent further degradation of the environment and will support a green and sustainable recovery that the Lebanese people are aspiring for. Following the publication of the study, a series of roundtables and workshops are planned with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Environment to discuss the most effective legal and administrative mechanism for collecting the dues.

Source: National News Agency – Lebanon

Al Zeyoudi discusses boosting economic trade with Mexican delegation

DUBAI, 2nd June, 2023 (WAM) — Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, has welcomed a delegation of senior government officials from Mexico as the two nations explore greater trade and investment opportunities. At the Ministry of Economy in Dubai, Dr. Al Zeyoudi held discussions with Carmen Moreno Toscano, Mexico’s Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs; Gabriel Urio Gonzalez, Deputy Minister of Finance and Public Credit; and Luis Alfonso de Alba Gongora, Mexico’s Ambassador to the UAE, highlighting the potential for mutually beneficial partnerships in sectors such as food security, advanced technology, infrastructure, financial services, agriculture and professional services. Al Zeyoudi heralded the robust relations between the UAE and Mexico, which are continuing to create avenues for cooperation and collaboration. “Today, the UAE is Mexico’s largest trading partner among Arab and African countries, while Mexico is the UAE’s second-largest trading partner in Latin America. Bilateral non-oil trade surpassed AED7.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) in 2022, marking impressive growth of 36 percent compared to 2021, and significant increases of 56 percent and 49 percent compared to 2020 and 2019 respectively. “The meeting with the Mexican delegation helped to shed light on numerous valuable opportunities to further strengthen economic cooperation between our nations and foster increased investment and trade prospects for our respective business communities. Our discussions were focused on supporting future growth between both sides and creating new avenues for investment, which will build upon the AED922 million (US$251 million) that the UAE already has committed to Mexico,” he added. Al Zeyoudi also briefed the Mexican officials on the investment incentives provided by the UAE’s dynamic business environment, including 100 percent foreign ownership, streamlined business establishment procedures, and frictionless access to global markets offered by its Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEPA) programme, which has resulted in wide-ranging trade deals with India, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkiye. Dr. Al Zeyoudi outlined the potential for Mexican business owners and entrepreneurs to leverage the advantages offered by the UAE’s NextGenFDI programme, which provides market-entry fundamentals for future-focused enterprises, including rapid incorporation and licensing, bulk visa issuance and access to banking facilities. During the discussions, Al Zeyoudi also emphasised the UAE economy, most notably the nation’s robust GDP growth of 7.6 percent and its achievement of surpassing AED2.2 trillion in non-oil foreign trade for the first time in 2022, which represented a growth of 17 percent compared to 2021. Additionally, the UAE secured a global ranking of eleventh in merchandise exports, with a total of US$599 billion, contributing 2.4 percent to the world’s merchandise exports.

Source: Emirates News Agency (WAM)

SCA signs MoU with AFSA to exchange information, enhance market transparency

ABU DHABI, 2nd June 2023 (WAM) – The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Astana Financial Services Authority (AFSA) in Kazakhstan to establish a framework for mutual cooperation in supervision, surveillance, and information exchange, thereby enhancing market transparency and increasing the efficiency of the securities sector in both countries. The MoU was signed between Dr. Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi, CEO of the SCA, and Nurkhat Kushimov, CEO of the AFSA, in the presence of officials from the two sides. “The MoU intends to unify the efforts aimed at enhancing transparency and bolstering the integrity of financial market transactions by cooperating in supervision and surveillance and ensuring the enforcement of laws, rules, and regulations applicable to listed companies to promote the efficiency of the securities sector and unlock its full potential in both countries,” Dr. Al Suwaidi said following the signing that took place in a video conference. “This agreement establishes a unique partnership with the AFSA and reflects a new avenue of bilateral cooperation that brings about the significant benefit of protecting investor rights. It provides for the exchange of information and coordination on matters related to investor complaints about fraudulent practices engaged in by unlicensed, fictitious entities. It also allows for the conduction of joint inspections and investigations to ensure the integrity of transactions carried out in markets and financial services companies and limit practices that violate the laws and regulations applicable to both parties.” Under the terms of the MoU, the two sides may share information, exchange expertise, and carry out joint training about regulatory surveillance and supervision. They may also qualify licensed persons in line with the best standards and international approaches while working to enhance aspects related to professional development to ensure the soundness of transactions and enhance professional performance. Tariq Al Fahaam/ Muhammad Aamir

Source: Emirates News Agency (WAM)

UNESCO Office to organise conference on early childhood care

SHARJAH, 2nd June, 2023 (WAM) — Under the auspices of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs in Sharjah, the UNESCO Office is organising, in partnership with UAE entities including Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), Sharjah Education Academy, Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO), and the Federal Agency for Early Education (FAEE), the UNESCO Regional Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education on 4-5 June. The conference, attended by a group of senior officials and specialised speakers, from different countries, includes a number of topics that highlight the development of early childhood programmes, achieving optimal growth for children from pregnancy until the age of eight, and promoting children safety and well-being within four main areas, including inclusiveness, quality, and well-being; workforce; programmes innovations; and policy, governance and finance. The conference aims to assess the progress made by the Arab region towards achieving SDG 4.2 and other sustainable development goals related to early childhood, in addition to sharing knowledge on key enabling factors, emerging research findings, good practices, and innovations to develop high-quality early childhood care and education policies and programmes. The conference also aims to identify opportunities and set a set of priorities and strategies to achieve the desired goals, increase investment in early childhood care by governments and their partners, show solidarity and strengthen the regional partnership for the cause of early childhood, and review Sharjah experience in early childhood care and education. The conference highlights four topics and key areas for promoting early childhood care and education in the region, including “inclusiveness, quality and well-being” including curricula and teaching methods, in addition to building solid foundations that include health, nutrition and well-being. The conference also tackles “Early Childhood Care and Education Workforce and Caregivers”, including systems for early childhood teacher and care staff training, attraction, employment and professionalism, certifications, licencing and career advancement, training, supervision and workforce in early childhood care, and education in the non-governmental sector. The conference discusses “Programmes Innovations” to take advantage of neurosciences to promote early brain development through technology and artificial intelligence, including screen time learning, AI ethics, as well as designing innovative learning practices and spaces, and alternative models for providing innovative care. The fourth topic reviews “politics, governance and financing”, including data, monitoring and evaluation, formal and informal political and legal frameworks, quality assurance systems, multi-sectoralisation and coordination. The conference is expected to realise good results and recommendations, especially in the field of increasing investment and learning about Sharjah experience in early childhood care, to come up with a solidarity system that strengthens the regional partnership in the field of early childhood to promote innovative, high-quality policies and programmes.

Source: Emirates News Agency (WAM)