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YouTube is Helping African Music Acts Go Global, Here’s How

While many dream of using YouTube as their launching pad to stardom, discovery doesn’t come easy. Thanks to a new partnership between YouTube and Mr. Eazi’s emPawa Foundation, however, emerging talents from Africa are getting a leg up and the chance to develop a global audience. The idea for emPawa was motivated by the need to give back to Africa’s music industry says Mr Eazi. In 2018, he called for online demo music submissions from artists across Africa using the hashtag #empawa100. Out of 10,000 entries received from 14 countries, 100 were handpicked and their videos funded at $3,000 apiece. Now, emPawa has many moving parts. The incubator helps artists market their music, provides them with access to TV and radio stations for airplay, and enrolls some of them for classes with top business managers so they can become independent music entrepreneurs. 

SOURCES: CNN

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OkayAfrica Presents: ‘The Adinkra Oracle’ with Simone Bresi-Ando

We’re all familiar with seeking guidance from the stars, but what about our ancestors?  In a new series from OkayAfrica, Simone Bresi-Ando teaches us about Adinkra and provides us with monthly readings. The Ghanaian-British PR expert, social commentator and activist developed Bresi-Ando Tools For Living—a lifestyle hub providing ‘tools for life’ to help one get through the ups and downs utilizing what we already have, to manifest what we want. One of her tools you’ll be getting to know through this series is the Adinkra Ancestral Guidance Cards—a deck comprised of 44 Adinkra symbols to help you channel information, messages and direction from your ancestors using Adinkra symbols. As many may know, the Adinkra is an ancient language linked with the Akan people of Ghana and the Gyaman people of Ivory Coast. 

SOURCES: OKAYAFRICA

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How Blackboard is Helping Kids Unleash their Creativity

To inspire a new generation of diverse creatives, Blackboard is teaching kids from South Africa’s townships about career opportunities in fields such as animation, photography, film-making and design. The initiative works with kids just entering high school and continues to work with them throughout their high school careers. The students are registered in grade 8 and from there the team at Blackboard are able to identify the ones who are determined to follow a career path in the creative industry. 

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

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The Folklore is the Online Shop of your Dreams

If you’re looking for luxe African fashions, you need to check out the Folklore, an online shop founded by Amira Rasool, which celebrates the best of African design. Now with a lucrative business and consistent clientele through online sales and pop-up shops, founder Amira Rasool is launching a crowdfunding campaign via iFund Women. The campaign will help The Folklore continue their business as well as create a bigger budget to connect with more African designers.

SOURCES: ESSENCE

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See Africa by Train

On a continent where taking things slowly is compulsory, it won’t come as much of a surprise the 46-hour journey along the 1160-mile (1860km) route from Tanzania’s port city to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia often ends up taking far longer. Then again, few trains in the world offer the chance – and we should point out that it’s a chance rather than a guarantee – of spotting big game from your seat, but the Tazara (Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority) does exactly that. For many, the highlight is neither the scenery nor the wildlife, though; it is the chance to spend two days watching everyday life out of the window, and enjoying the clamour and chaos when the train pulls to a halt, scheduled or unscheduled.

SOURCES: LONELY PLANET

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More than Sandy Beaches in this African Gem

Mauritius holds several beautiful circuits for hiking and nature lovers. The heart of the island, is bordered by volcanic peaks which in addition to being accessible on foot, also offers amazing panoramic views. The island offers professionals, passionate amateurs and beginners no less than ten 18-hole courses and three 9-hole courses in perfect conditions for the game. Whether you wish to view the island’s beauty from the sea or you want to revel in a leisurely day, shaded from the sun from the windfilled mainsail, a wide choice of sea excursions is available to suit all preferences. Mauritius holds over ten natural parks and leisure parks. All it takes is a stroll around to understand that Mauritians love street food. Every corner presents a variety of local specialities. 

SOURCES: GETAWAY

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Togo’s Enchanted Castle still a Crowd Pleaser

When people talk about Togo, they often mention the Queens of African fabric known as the Nana Benz, they speak of the remains of the slave trade of Agbodrafo or they may speak of the German Cathedral of Lomé. It’s not Versailles, but the Viale castle. It’s in the town of Kpalimé, 120 km northwest of the capital Lomé and a few kilometres from the Togo-Ghana border. Above the town is Mount Kloto, where Château Viale stands, a presidential residence since 1975. Over time, the castle has deteriorated and lost its brilliance. However, its beauty and historical significance keeps it a local tourist attraction.


SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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Casablanca is a Destination Full of Surprise

A large metropolis of 4 million inhabitants,the economic and financial capital of Morocco, a more modern city where thousands of foreigners come from all over the world not only to visit the city, but also to work and live. Behind these realities is a city full of history with an architectural heritage, ancient and recent, a dynamic city, proud of its past and confident in its future. With its contemporary buildings dedicated to business, Casablanca offers an active and dynamic image of Morocco in the 21st century. Take for example the business activities of Casanearshore Park and the enormous Technopark building that greets you while entering the city from the airport. Here, you will plunge into the roots of the country’s history by traveling through the ancient city of Casablanca. Surrounded by walls, it unrolls its shady alleys around the Great Mosque. You may also feel the pulse of the city on a stroll along the Cornich, where you can take in views of the sea.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Addis Ababa

From July 2018 through June 2019 the city registered an absolute average daily rate (ADR) of US $163.79 when measured in constant currency, which removes the effects of inflation. It’s a 1.1% increase year on year. The next closest STR-defined markets in Africa were Accra, Ghana ($160.34) and Lagos, Nigeria ($132.51). Addis Ababa’s occupancy over the same 12-month time period was 58.4%, up 6.5% year over year. Cairo & Giza was the continent’s occupancy leader at 74.5%. Cape Town Centre, South Africa (65.0%), ranked second in the metric followed by Accra (59.7%). This according to the most recent 12-month data from STR when surveying hotels on the continent.

SOURCES: IOL

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Residents of Tunisia’s Gabes Go on an Environmental Pushback

Close to the Chott Essalem beach and in front of a rare coastal oasis, the state-owned Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT) has been processing phosphate since the 1970s. Around 13,000 tonnes of chemicals and waste are channelled into a Tunisian bay that was once a rich spawning ground for marine life. Now devoid of the formerly plentiful fish and crabs, the locals call it the “fatal shore” and believe it is responsible for an increase in cancer and disease. As Tunisia plans to increase its export of phosphates, used in agricultural fertilizer, environmental groups are warning of the damage being done to land and sea. The Gulf of Gabes is an important spawning ground for Mediterranean fish. But phosphate mining and processing, industries that are important for Tunisia’s economy, have left it heavily polluted.
 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Luanda’s Rep as the Most Expensive City in the World has Come to an End

In contrast to the Angolan capital’s established ranking at the top of the annual cost of living index compiled by global consulting firm Mercer, it has tumbled in the last two years. Rankings released in June show Luanda placed 26th out of 209 cities—a twenty place drop from last year when it ranked 6th. In fact, Luanda is now the fourth highest ranked African city, behind Ndjamena, Kinshasa and Lagos. Mercer’s index is based on the prices of goods and services including food, utilities, transport logistics and accommodation (collectively referred to as a “basket”), that expats purchase. It then compares costs by converting prices from local currencies to US dollars. And that’s the root of Angola’s fall in the rankings: in Jan. 2018, the government ditched its currency peg to the dollar and essentially devalued its local kwanza currency. Luanda becoming cheaper for expats doesn’t make it cheaper for locals given their vastly different shopping preferences.

SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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The New Crop Keeping Kenyan Farmers Afloat

As drought and erratic weather wreak havoc across rural Kenya, a growing number of farmers are abandoning traditional crops such as maize and rice for the more lucrative muguka, a potent legal stimulant that relieves fatigue. A variety of khat, which produces a mild high when chewed, muguka is fast-growing, making it less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions, and uses about half as much water as maize. But it is bad news for food supplies, said agriculture experts and local politicians, who warned of a potential food crop shortage as farmers clear their fields of staples to make way for muguka. There is no official record of how many farmers have switched from growing food crops to muguka, said Mwangi. Nor is there data on how much land is being used for muguka, according to Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). But Francis Kimori, chair of the Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco, a savings and credit co-operative, estimated that four out of every five households around the Mount Kenya region, including in Embu County, are farming the stimulant in some quantity.
 

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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West Africa’s Gold Sector is where the Sun is Rising

Africa’s largest money manager sees “significant investment opportunities” in West African gold mining as the industry at the southern endof the continent declines. Investor-friendly policies can help Ghana and other countries in the region drive the next “gold-mining boom,” said a mining research analyst at South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. Low-cost deposits in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ivory Coast offer the long-term investment potential the PIC prefers, rather than the five to 10-year lifespan of projects in South Africa. South Africa’s gold industry, which has produced half the world’s bullion ever mined, has been shrinking amid the geological challenges of exploiting the world’s deepest mines. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. have shifted production to lower-cost operations, including West Africa, with the former in the process of selling its last underground mine in South Africa. Both companies are expanding output in Ghana, which has leapfrogged South Africa to become the continent’s largest bullion producer.
 

SOURCE: MONEYWEB

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Here’s What’s Grinding the Lagos Economy to a Halt

The city is unhealthily crowded. Despite being the smallest state in the country, it has the highest urban population with an estimated population of 22 million people and counting, more than double New York or London’s tally. More than eight million people, moving in five million vehicles cram into a tiny network of just 9,100 roads every day. This is the reason why Lagosians spend an average of 30 hours in traffic each week — or 1,560 annually — while drivers in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic spent only 128 and 210 hours respectively in the whole of 2018. Traffic congestion, with its noise and environmental pollution, takes a huge toll on workers’ mental and physical health. Health professionals have even linked its overall damage to the increasing rate of suicide in the city. The situation is also killing workforce productivity. While working conditions across the globe are fast evolving, some Nigerian companies are reluctant to enable their employees to work from home. Traffic jam stifles both state and national economies. The Lagos business community alone loses $30.5 million monthly. While the gridlock at Nigeria’s largest seaport, Apapa, costs the country $19 billion annually — a loss higher than the country’s 2016 budget.
 

SOURCE: CNN

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Did Zimbabwe Get a Clean Break from Mugabe’s Autocratic Rule and Economic Mismanagement?

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s opponents now fear he is more dangerous than his predecessor. The number of government critics charged with “subverting a constitutional government,” a form of treason, during Mr. Mnangagwa’s 21 months at the helm already outstrips the figure during Mr. Mugabe’s 37 years in office, according to a coalition of 22 Zimbabwean rights watchdogs. Mr. Mnangagwa has been traveling extensively throughout Africa, promoting and developing plans for economic reform. He wants to be seen as a modernizer, and he portrays Zimbabwe as once again “open for business.” He opened a dry port for Zimbabwean trade in Namibia. He has reduced the paperwork needed to open companies, and he loudly seeks foreign investment in the mining, tourism, agricultural and textile industries. But Zimbabwe is suffering from vast shortages of fuel, bank notes, water and electricity. Drivers typically wait three hours for gasoline, and civil servants line up all morning to receive part of their salaries in cash. Half of the capital Harare receives running water only once a week, and electricity blackouts last up to 18 hours a day in many areas. An inflation rate of more than 175 percent has put some food and medicine beyond the reach of middle-class Zimbabweans. Shoppers emerging from a Harare supermarket complained of a sevenfold rise in the price of bread since this time last year.
 

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Africa’s Unbanked Find Another Solution to Tap into Formal Economy

Mobile money is the fastest-growing source of income for wireless-network operators like MTN Group Ltd. and Vodafone Group Plc’s Safaricom unit, outpacing data since many Africans don’t have the latest smartphones. The service has become an indispensable part of how Africa’s 1.2 billion people live, from buying funeral cover to borrowing money. The number of registered users in Ghana soared 11-fold between 2013 and 2017, International Monetary Fund data shows. Across the continent in Kenya, where it was pioneered, the value of such transactions amounts to almost half of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. Sub-Saharan Africa has more mobile-money accounts than anywhere else in the world with about 396 million registered users at the end of 2018, a 14% increase from a year earlier, according to the GSM Association. As it catches on around the world, South Asia saw 29% growth in 2018, and it was 38% for East Asia and the Pacific.
 

SOURCE: BUSINESS CHIEF

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SA President Signs Controversial National Credit Amendment Bill into Law

Informally known as the ‘debt relief bill’, the new act aims to provide relief to over-indebted South Africans who have no other means of extracting themselves from over-indebtedness. Specifically, the act will allow certain applicants to have their debt suspended in part or in full for up to 24 months. This debt may then be extinguished altogether if the financial circumstances of the applicant do not improve. South Africa’s banking industry has previously raised concerns with the bill after it proposed writing off billions of rands worth of debt from every-day South Africans. The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) made it clear that it does not support the principle of debt forgiveness – for very obvious financial reasons, but also for what it would do to the lending and credit industry.

SOURCES: BUSINESS TECH

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Christine Lagarde’s Legacy in Africa

A striking example of this came in 2014 with the Ebola epidemic outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The IMF was the first to respond with $130m in immediate assistance to help balance payments and meet fiscal needs. Lagarde, a former French finance minister, faced criticism that the epidemic wasn’t a balance of payments crisis, and the IMF wasn’t in the business of humanitarian aid. A lawyer by trade without the technical training of an economist, she saw the IMF as an agency that tackles problems with far-reaching economic consequences. Her role has been more as a diplomat or politician, who “has a much broader vision” of economics. “I think that’s really brought her closer to Africa and Africa closer to her,” says Plant.Lagarde was seen as a fair arbiter, a force for growth and a “great” partner to African nations, says Alain Ebobissé, the CEO of the 28-nation infrastructure fund Africa50.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Meet Africa’s Serial Entrepreneur

According to a report by Component, globally, the massive open online courses (MOOCs) market is estimated to hit $20.8 billion by 2023. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji wanted in. He set up a company in Abuja called Fora.com focused on incorporating MOOCs into the university environment especially for courses that were relevant but not provided by Nigerian universities due to a lack of quality resources. The firm began to gain some traction. People were paying for the application courses and Aboyeji decided to pilot a loan program where financial institutions would offer loans to students. This where Aboyeji stumbled on a new gold mine and Andela was born. He started with one person and began teaching him how to code. He repurposed the team from Fora into coding masters, bid masters and operational staff, and shifted the focus of Fora because they had the flexibility to do it. The company has since gone on to raise $180 million in venture funding from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and other notable investors from Silicon Valley. Aboyeji left the company after three years in search of his next adventure but is still a major shareholder in Andela. That voyage led him to co-found Flutterwave, an integrated payments platform for Africans to make and accept any payment, anywhere from across Africa and around the wo rld. Under his watch, the company processed 100 million transactions worth $2.5 billion. Turning his eyes firmly on future opportunities has led Aboyeji to set up his own family office called Street Capital, with a focus on identifying passionate and experienced missionary entrepreneurs with the integrity and courage to flawlessly execute in Africa.
 

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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Embedding A Culture Of Design Thinking

There is little doubt that technology has fundamentally shifted enterprise goalposts and redrawn the lines that once were the parameters of the business. It is embedded in every business, integrated into every person’s life and heavy with potential as it continues to evolve. However, this potential comes at a cost. It puts pressure on organisations to constantly compete in fragile and fragmented markets. It pushes consumers in multiple directions, challenging their loyalties and their attention. These intelligent solutions offer up a tasty tray of technology titbits that are hard to resist. They are also redefining how organisations shape their cultures and their business models.

A recent Forrester survey – The Global Business Technographics Priorities and Journey Survey 2018 – asked more than 2, 000 global enterprises what they were doing to drive innovation. More than 40% stated that emergent technologies were driving their shift towards new business models that would allow them to change how they innovate with technology.  And this is where design thinking becomes a core component of how the organisation changes its engagement with customers and innovation.

“Design thinking is a tool that organisations can use to understand their customers better,” says Phathizwe Malinga, Managing Director at SqwidNet. “It is a tool that induces empathy towards a customer and leads the organisation down the right paths to communication. To ensure that what they offer remains as profitable as possible, a company needs to bed down a culture of design thinking. It is this that will allow them to adapt alongside the constantly changing market by understanding their customer pain points and needs far better.”

In markets powered by disruption and transformation, the one constant is change. Customers are constantly looking to improve their quality of life and to get as much value as possible for their investment. They want what they buy to have emotive and functional weight when balanced against their chequebook. This is where design thinking steps in. It allows the company to adapt to how customers think and speak to them in a language that they understand.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is one area which is ideally suited to supporting the growth of design thinking within the organisation,” says Malinga. “IoT is about increasing company awareness of the effectiveness of its capabilities, whether these are internal or external. If a company can match the rate of change between the needs of the customer and its own capabilities, then it will not only remain profitable, it will likely have a far better brand image and identity. It is designing for the thinking of the customer.”

Design thinking helps an organisation to understand the changing needs of its customers over time, thereby providing insight into the effectiveness of products and solutions for these customers. IoT allows for deeper control over these processes, providing the organisation with insights into spending the right amount of capital at the right time to ensure it meets the right deadlines. A combination of IoT and design thinking will help any company to shift from an intuition-driven model to data-driven leadership. It allows for the enterprise to avoid the over-engineering anti-pattern where the company uses or borrows capital to build a ton of features into their products just in case the customer’s taste changes to, well, anything.

“This anti-pattern is usually called ‘futureproofing’ and the product becomes the Swiss army knife of leadership’s imagination,” says Malinga. “Design thinking ensures that the company knows and understands the customer, especially their frustrations, and then uses emergent technologies such as IoT to generate the right insights that allow for fundamentally intelligent improvements to products and services.”

To embed a culture of design thinking into the organisation, enterprises should first invest in a good training provider who can teach leadership and employees how to use design thinking tools. Then it is simply a matter of using every opportunity to use these tools, whether in design when creating products, or in the field when trying to understand how a product is being used. The more people learn to put the customer at the forefront of every decision, the more design thinking will seep into the fabric of the organisation.

“Companies should organise themselves around this understanding, not the other way around,” says Malinga. “For example, when it comes to traditional banking, why is the bank open when people are at work but closed when they knock off? They close early on the day that people do errands. This has forced a rapid adoption of digital banking, which is not a bad thing, but nobody should be surprised when more branches close as they are not designed for customer needs.”

Design thinking offers tangible rewards to those who invest in its potential. In the short term, it allows for the enterprise to gain a deeper understanding of customer needs and this will allow for improved innovation and more relevant products and solutions. It is a far richer path to follow than to simply copy what the competition is doing. In the long term, when embarking on research and development to innovate products, a design culture allows for the enterprise to instinctively put the customer first and thereby design solutions that are precisely what the customer needs, not what the business thinks they need. Which is definitely the right way forward in a highly competitive and challenging market.

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Zero Tolerance for Crimes Against People Living with Albinism

A Malawi court has convicted and sentenced two men and a woman to death for killing a person with albinism. This is the second death sentence handed down in the country in the past three months following one in May this year for the murder of albino teenager Mphatso Pensulo in 2017. Malawi has not carried out any executions since 1994, with death sentences commuted to life imprisonment. The Association of People Living with Albinism welcomed Tuesday’s ruling, hoping it will deter attacks on their members. Of 163 cases reported in the country since November 2014, 22 have been murders, Amnesty International said in May 2019, criticising impunity for the crimes. Just 30% of those attacks have been properly investigated, according to official statistics.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Bringing Coding to Refugee Camps

Senegalese Marieme Jamme, once a child prostitute, has made it her mission to teach one million women and girls — including refugees — how to program computers by 2030. In Britain, Jamme, driven by a love for math and science, taught herself computer programming. She became the CEO of a business consultancy firm and has advised organizations such as Google, Ernst and Young, Microsoft, and U.N. Women, in addition to many African governments. There is a long way to go to reach Jamme’s goal to teach one million students. But since 2011, “iamtheCode” has trained thousands of women and girls — and that’s something to celebrate, especially in a refugee camp.

SOURCE: VOA

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Burundi on High Alert

Burundi has started vaccinating its health workers against Ebola, beginning with those near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country has had no reported cases of the deadly haemorrhagic fever, but the viral disease has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018 in an epidemic that has now killed at least 1,800 people. Efforts to control the outbreak have been hampered by militia violence and some local resistance to outside help. The WHO said Burundi’s health ministry had begun vaccinating health workers at the Gatumba border crossing point using the Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV. Neighbouring Uganda has also been on high alert since two people, part of a family visiting from Congo, died of Ebola. A third member of the family died after returning home.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Casablanca is a Destination Full of Surprise

A large metropolis of 4 million inhabitants,the economic and financial capital of Morocco, a more modern city where thousands of foreigners come from all over the world not only to visit the city, but also to work and live. Behind these realities is a city full of history with an architectural heritage, ancient and recent, a dynamic city, proud of its past and confident in its future. With its contemporary buildings dedicated to business, Casablanca offers an active and dynamic image of Morocco in the 21st century. Take for example the business activities of Casanearshore Park and the enormous Technopark building that greets you while entering the city from the airport. Here, you will plunge into the roots of the country’s history by traveling through the ancient city of Casablanca. Surrounded by walls, it unrolls its shady alleys around the Great Mosque. You may also feel the pulse of the city on a stroll along the Cornich, where you can take in views of the sea.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Getting the Facts Right in Africa’s News Cycle

Facebook, in partnership with fact-checking organisation Africa Check, has started checking for fake news in African languages. The program, which was launched in Sub-Saharan Africa last year, will now add languages including Yoruba, Igbo, Swahili, Wolof, Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana and Sotho. Stories deemed false will appear further down in Facebook users’ newsfeeds, in the hope that they won’t be shared as much. Facebook says it relies on feedback from the Facebook community to raise potentially false stories for review. Facebook has previously been under fire over the spread of fake news and hate speech on its platform. In Africa alone, more than 130 million people use Facebook.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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It’s Tense in Harare ahead of Planned Demonstrations

At least three men with links to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were abducted and badly beaten before being dumped on the streets of Harare on Wednesday. Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the MDC, has called a day of strikes and marches to protest a spiraling economic crisis. Mr Chamisa, who claims he won a disputed presidential election last year, is demanding the formation of a transitional authority to address the country’s economic crisis and ensure confidence in future elections. Previous MDC-led protests over the past year have ended in deadly violence, and government and opposition leaders have accused one another of plotting disorder. Soldiers killed at least six people when they opened fire on an MDC protest that turned violent following the disputed elections last year.  In January, 17 people were killed and many more raped and beaten by soldiers following protests over a sudden rise in the price of fuel.  

SOURCE: THE TELEGRAPH

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From Rising to the Top of the Criminal Pyramid in Kibera Slum to Voice of Change

George Okewa once terrorised his community. Spurred on by violence, drink and drugs, he believed that one day his lifestyle would cause his death. Today Okewa is director of community relations for Shining hope for communities (Shofco), a 514-strong charitable organisation, which he co-founded with Odede in 2004. Okewa and his fellow disciples spend their time building relationships with the police and government in an effort to keep Kibera’s young people alive and divert them from crime, while building infrastructure that supports Kenya’s poorest. Okewa’s first lesson to the youth: respect for oneself and for women. It is the persistent political influence over the gangs that Okewa believes continues to make Kibera a tinderbox, triggering violent uprising across the country during election time and leading to clashes with police and loss of life on both sides of the divide.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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West Africa’s Gold Sector is where the Sun is Rising

Africa’s largest money manager sees “significant investment opportunities” in West African gold mining as the industry at the southern endof the continent declines. Investor-friendly policies can help Ghana and other countries in the region drive the next “gold-mining boom,” said a mining research analyst at South Africa’s Public Investment Corp. Low-cost deposits in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ivory Coast offer the long-term investment potential the PIC prefers, rather than the five to 10-year lifespan of projects in South Africa. South Africa’s gold industry, which has produced half the world’s bullion ever mined, has been shrinking amid the geological challenges of exploiting the world’s deepest mines. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. have shifted production to lower-cost operations, including West Africa, with the former in the process of selling its last underground mine in South Africa. Both companies are expanding output in Ghana, which has leapfrogged South Africa to become the continent’s largest bullion producer.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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UNAIDS Welcomes the Appointment of Winnie Byanyima to the Fold

Ugandan Winnie Byanyima, who heads UK charity Oxfam, has been appointed as the next executive director of UNAids. “Ms Byanyima brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of governments, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the Aids epidemic around the world,” UNAids said in a statement. A former MP and engineer by training, Ms Byanyima succeeds Michel Sidibé, who has been appointed Mali’s health minister. “I am honoured to be joining UNAids as the executive director at such a critical time in the response to HIV. The end of Aids as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach, but I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead.” Ms Byanyima, 60, tweeted that she embraces the role with “humility, passion and faith”. She served for seven years as director of gender and development at the United Nations Development Programme before she joined Oxfam in 2013. She has also worked for the African Union Commission on a women’s rights project to help reduce the disproportionate effect of HIV on the lives of women on the continent.

SOURCE: UNAIDS

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Nigeria Takes its Focus on Agriculture to the Next Level

President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed the country’s central bank to stop providing foreign currency for food imports, according his spokesman, the move is aimed at improving Nigeria’s agricultural production and attaining more food security. Agricultural expert Ayokunle Afolabi Toye says a restriction on foreign exchange for food importers is a good move for local food producers to grow, but it needs to be supplemented with additional policies to be effective. As a way of diversifying the country’s economy and reducing its dependence on oil, policies aimed at stimulating the growth of the agricultural sector have been put forward over the past years. In 2015, the Central Bank of Nigeria presided over a ban on the access to foreign currency for 41 items that the bank felt could be manufactured in the country, including rice and poultry. In July, it announced that it would stop importers of milk and other dairy products from getting foreign currency, arguing that local production of milk should be encouraged instead. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, imports of agricultural products were valued at about $640 million in the first quarter of 2019. These policies are expected to reduce how much is spent on imports and encourage local production of goods.SOURCE: CNN

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Fighting Food Insecurity In Africa – Lessons From The United States

The U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green recently concluded a one-week visit to USAID-funded programs at several African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and Mozambique. His goal was to promote sustainable paths to self-reliance, including in the context of food security programs.

Finding sustainable pathways to self-reliance, especially for many African countries whose citizens continue to be affected by hunger and food insecurity, is indeed important. Presently, over 257 million African citizens are hungry. In addition, according to a recent report titled For Lack of Will – Child Hunger in Africa, over 50 percent of all child deaths in Africa are caused by hunger.

Importantly, achieving food security will set the stage and pave way for African citizens to meet their food needs, create surpluses for export and tap on the opportunities that come with urbanization and transition from developing to emerging economies.

There are many strategies and pathways that African countries must implement to attain food security, and this includes learning from countries that have made remarkable progress in this area, including the U.S.

Of course, no country is perfect and hunger and food insecurity is still an issue that affects close to 40 million people in the U.S., (around 12 percent of the population). Still, the U.S. has made remarkable progress and great strides in achieving food security for all its citizens.

As a result, there are lessons African governments can learn from them as they work to attain food security and improve childhood nutrition.

The frameworks that have propelled the U.S. to become food secure encompass a multitude of several interlinked targeted strategies and initiatives, including prioritizing the agricultural sector, investing in innovative agricultural initiatives that are resilient and responsive to new challenges such as climate change, and building safety nets that can be tapped upon by citizens who need the help.

Further, many of the initiatives have clear goals, targets, benchmarks and indicators of success. In addition, these initiatives have built-in monitoring and evaluations systems to ensure they achieve the intended outcomes.

Take California, for example, also referred to as the agricultural powerhouse of the U.S. Despite facing drought, one of the extremities that comes with a changing climate, recent Agricultural Statistics Reviewshows that investing in innovative agricultural initiatives has allowed the State to maintain sustainable agricultural crop production, and, consequently become food secure.

The State of Illinois ranks nationally and internationally in maize and soybean output, and has maintained these rankings despite the many challenges farmers face including a changing climate. By using all the available and recent agricultural technologies and tools such as improved seed varieties, farmers have been to maintain crop yields, translating into food security. Furthermore, the United States Department of Agriculture continuously supports all states and provides detailed reports and resources that farmers can consult.

Importantly, the frameworks that have allowed the U.S. to be food secure have a common backbone — the land-grant university system. Through it, many Land-Grant Universities in the U.S. such as University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Cornell University, Purdue University, consistently carry agricultural research coupled with a functioning extension service arm that delivers discoveries and recent science-based information to farmers and rural communities.

For example, Purdue and University of Kentucky recently collaborated with USDA in an effort to provide research, extension and other assistance to rural communities.  Cornell University has Small Farms program dedicated to supporting farmers.  Other Land-Grant universities with similar programs include Penn State UniversityVirginia State University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Complimenting these efforts have been investments by both the State and Federal governments agencies such as the USDA and advancements in new technologies and equipment, irrigation systems, soil health building systems, access to water and electricity, improved production systems and production practices, infrastructure like roads, and sound policies as well as risk management.

The USDA, for example, recently announced that it would support all U.S. farmers impacted by recent trade disruption. This is in addition to several other programs for farmers that are impacted by other extremities that come with a changing climate.

At the same time, the U.S. also invested in improving its phytosanitary standards, further allowing it to trade commodities, allowing for export-led economy. In addition, U.S. citizens have access to food they cannot produce all the times.

A recent technical brief showed that many African countries phytosanitary standards are not up to date, further limiting African countries from benefiting from exporting and importing food.

Countries in Africa that are the most food secure such as Tunisia, Mauritius, Morocco, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa and those which are making progress toward being more food secure such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Kenya have achieved their progress by using some of the same strategies as the U.S, through USAID Feed the Future Initiative, and other USAID funded programs and initiatives such as USAID Feed the Future Innovation labs .

Other African countries can follow suit. Of course, other foundational frameworks these countries have are stable democracies and export-driven economies.

Building a food secure future can be achieved when countries are open to weighing in on proven strategies.  Time is now.

Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois, World Policy Institute Senior Fellow, Aspen Institute New Voices Food Security Fellow, Clinton Global University Initiative Agriculture Commitments Mentor and Ambassador

Article IPS News

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Africa’s Unbanked Find Another Solution to Tap into Formal Economy

Mobile money is the fastest-growing source of income for wireless-network operators like MTN Group Ltd. and Vodafone Group Plc’s Safaricom unit, outpacing data since many Africans don’t have the latest smartphones. The service has become an indispensable part of how Africa’s 1.2 billion people live, from buying funeral cover to borrowing money. The number of registered users in Ghana soared 11-fold between 2013 and 2017, International Monetary Fund data shows. Across the continent in Kenya, where it was pioneered, the value of such transactions amounts to almost half of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. Sub-Saharan Africa has more mobile-money accounts than anywhere else in the world with about 396 million registered users at the end of 2018, a 14% increase from a year earlier, according to the GSM Association. As it catches on around the world, South Asia saw 29% growth in 2018, and it was 38% for East Asia and the Pacific.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Leading the Revolution for Cleaner Cooking Methods in African Cities

The widespread use of charcoal for cooking in African cities can cause devastating damage to forests up to 300 kilometers away, scientist Sebastia n Rodriguez-Sanchez found while working on energy and agriculture issues in West Africa. So in 2015, he co-founded a business to try to fix the problem by weaning people off charcoal — made by smoldering wood — and onto bottled gas. So far, efforts to introduce cleaner stoves that burn less fuel have been led mainly by aid agencies working in rural parts of Africa and Asia — and have had limited success. For families in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam, where Rodriguez-Sanchez started his business, KopaGas, the $150 cost of a gas stove and canister equals half the average monthly wage, making it hard to afford. As a result, four out of five residents in a city generating 40% of the East African nation’s GDP still depend on a fuel that damages both forests and their health to make daily meals. KopaGas hopes to spur uptake of gas cooking using a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) system it developed. For an upfront fee of 15,000 Tanzanian shillings ($6.50), a household gets a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cooking kit that includes a canister fitted with a smart meter. The gas supply is unlocked by mobile phone payments and the meter monitors consumption, feeding back data via the Internet of Things. KopaGas has signed up 3,500 households for its PAYG service, and supplies another 20,000 with traditional gas bottles. Its services reach about 117,000 people in total, a number it aims to boost to 1 million in Tanzania by the end of 2021.SOURCE: VOA

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South Africa’s First Restaurant to Focus Exclusively on Insects

A South Africa-based company, Gourmet Grubb, produces ice cream made from an insect-based dairy alternative they’ve named EntoMilk. It’s made from Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly. And since June, they’ve been operating a pop-up food concept in Cape Town called The Insect Experience, where dishes featuring insects are plated with the same care and precision as any gourmet delicacy. The pop-up was originally slated to close by the end of August, but Bessa and her partners now hope to keep it open through the middle of 2020, possibly springing up every few months in new locations. Most of the insects used at The Insect Experience come from South African farms, Bessa said. The only exception are the mopane worms, a southern African delicacy that are sourced from neighboring Zimbabwe. There are more than 1,900 known edible insect species consumed around the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Edible insects are incredibly healthy, according to Bessa. They’re high in protein that has the right amino acid profile for human consumption. They’re also high in iron and zinc, high in fiber, and they have a healthy fat profile.

SOURCE: CNN

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Did Zimbabwe Get a Clean Break from Mugabe’s Autocratic Rule and Economic Mismanagement?

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s opponents now fear he is more dangerous than his predecessor. The number of government critics charged with “subverting a constitutional government,” a form of treason, during Mr. Mnangagwa’s 21 months at the helm already outstrips the figure during Mr. Mugabe’s 37 years in office, according to a coalition of 22 Zimbabwean rights watchdogs. Mr. Mnangagwa has been traveling extensively throughout Africa, promoting and developing plans for economic reform. He wants to be seen as a modernizer, and he portrays Zimbabwe as once again “open for business.” He opened a dry port for Zimbabwean trade in Namibia. He has reduced the paperwork needed to open companies, and he loudly seeks foreign investment in the mining, tourism, agricultural and textile industries. But Zimbabwe is suffering from vast shortages of fuel, bank notes, water and electricity. Drivers typically wait three hours for gasoline, and civil servants line up all morning to receive part of their salaries in cash. Half of the capital Harare receives running water only once a week, and electricity blackouts last up to 18 hours a day in many areas. An inflation rate of more than 175 percent has put some food and medicine beyond the reach of middle-class Zimbabweans. Shoppers emerging from a Harare supermarket complained of a sevenfold rise in the price of bread since this time last year.

SOURCE:  THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Mozambique MPs Criminalise Digital Snooping

Anyone who now gains access to phones, computers or other gadgets belonging to someone else without permission will face up to two years in prison. For those who illegally produce, sell or distribute “non-public information” obtained from such devices without permission, the penalty will be a jail term of up to five years. The law now also stipulates that offenders will in addition be fined at least the equivalent of one year’s minimum salary of about $816. The revision aims to adapt criminal law to the realities of modern communication technologies to give individuals and businesses protection. Less of than half of Mozambique’s 31 million inhabitants have mobile phones.

SOURCE: CHANNEL AFRICA

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Multinationals Fined for Bribing African Officials

Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz and two associates are to stand trial for allegedly bribing Guinean officials to win mining licences. The trio allegedly paid $10m to one of the wives of former Guinean President Lansana Conte. Mr Steinmetz and his mining company Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) have previously denied any wrongdoing. The prosecution is seeking prison terms of two to 10 years. The prosecutors, who opened an investigation into the alleged bribery six years ago, allege that Mr Steinmetz obtained the mining rights in the Simandou region of south-eastern Guinea just before Conte died in 2008. They charge that the money was paid to a wife of the country’s former president partially through Swiss bank accounts. In February this year, Guinean authorities dropped corruption charges against Mr Steinmetz and BSGR in exchange for relinquishing rights to the Simandou mine.

SOURCE: BBC

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The New Crop Keeping Kenyan Farmers Afloat

As drought and erratic weather wreak havoc across rural Kenya, a growing number of farmers are abandoning traditional crops such as maize and rice for the more lucrative muguka, a potent legal stimulant that relieves fatigue. A variety of khat, which produces a mild high when chewed, muguka is fast-growing, making it less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions, and uses about half as much water as maize. But it is bad news for food supplies, said agriculture experts and local politicians, who warned of a potential food crop shortage as farmers clear their fields of staples to make way for muguka. There is no official record of how many farmers have switched from growing food crops to muguka, said Mwangi. Nor is there data on how much land is being used for muguka, according to Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). But Francis Kimori, chair of the Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco, a savings and credit co-operative, estimated that four out of every five households around the Mount Kenya region, including in Embu County, are farming the stimulant in some quantity.SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Pulling South Africa into the Electric Car Era

Nissan Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG are among carmakers in talks to bring the electric-car revolution to South Africa, as the nation’s auto-factory floors risk being left behind in the global switch to greener vehicles. The industry is preparing a unified stance on electrification to present to the government by the end of the year,  according to Mike Mabasa, chief executive officer of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa. Among the goals is persuading lawmakers to reduce or drop a 23% import tariff on electric vehicles to help ramp up nascent domestic sales, he said. Another is to roll out a charging infrastructure in a country where the state-owned power monopoly is in deep financial crisis. To date, there are no firm plans for electric-car or hybrid production in South Africa, but the government and industry agreed in 2018 to extend a manufacturing incentive program, creating jobs and enabling models like the BMW X3 sport utility vehicle and Nissan’s Novara pickup to be produced locally.

SOURCE: BLOOMBERG AFRICA

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[LISTEN] How Our African Ancestors Made Sound In The Stone Age

The Middle and Later Stone Age, which lasted from about 300 000 to 300 years ago in South Africa, was an important time for the African continent. During this period humans developed many different strategies to produce a variety of stone tools. They used fire as an engineering tool and to cook. As expert hunter gatherers, they successfully inhabited many parts of Africa. But one thing that’s been missing from our understanding of this epoch is sound, noise or music. There’s been very little research on the role of sound production during the Stone Age. That’s very surprising since we know that the latter part of this period was an important one for the development of complex cognition, symbolic expression and social dynamics among human ancestors. So it stands to reason that groups which were communicating in complex ways might also explore sound for expression. One reason to account for this lack of research may be that sound-producing instruments are usually made of organic materials which typically don’t survive well, archaeologically.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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West African Countries To Adopt ‘Eco’ As Single Currency

The Authority of Ecowas Heads of State and Government has elected President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger as the chairman for a one-year term and adopted ECO as the name of the single currency to be issued in January 2020.

President Issoufou was elected at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Ecowas leaders on Saturday in Abuja, taking over from President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.

A communiqué read by Mr Mustapha Suleiman, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, said the leaders lauded President Buhari for his unrelenting commitment to regional integration.

Ecowas also agreed to hold its next ordinary session on December 21 in Abuja.

The leaders congratulated the Ministerial Committee on the single Currency for the progress in the implementation of the revised roadmap.

The Authority instructed the Ecowas Commission to collaborate with the West African Monetary Agency.

The leaders also instructed the commission to work with the West African Monetary Institute and the central banks to accelerate the implementation of the revised roadmap with regard to the symbol of the single currency.

President Issoufou said the revised roadmap still stipulated that the single currency would be issued in January 2020.

“We have not changed that but we will continue with assessment between now and then.

The heads of government and state of 13 of the 15 member states were in attendance. They were from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

Cape Verde was represented by Mr Julio Cesar Lopes, the Regional Integration minister, while Senegal was represented by Mr Amadou Ba, the Foreign Affairs minister.

Source: TheEastAfrican

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Tanzanians Begin the Week with Heavy Hearts

Tanzania has laid to rest most of the 71 people who died while trying to collect leaking petrol from an overturned fuel tanker that exploded. The deadly blast, which took place on Saturday near the town of Morogoro, west of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, is the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa. President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday. He was represented at funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa. Majaliwa spoke at a ceremony in Kola, less than 20 minutes from where the disaster occurred some 200 kilometres  west of Dar es Salaam. White coffins were lowered into graves by members of the security forces, after which Islamic or Christian clerics said brief prayers and tossed handfuls of earth on them. A Pentecostal pastor named Mechak said in a service broadcast on television that “this should serve as a lesson to us. When there is an accident like this we should steer clear and let rescue workers do their job.” DNA tests will be carried out on bodies that were burnt beyond recognition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.SOURCE: NEWS 24

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New Evidence Suggests Ancient People have Been Living in Ethiopia’s Mountains for Centuries

Scientists have discovered what is by far the oldest evidence of human occupation at extreme altitudes: a rock shelter strewn with bones, tools and hearths 11,000 feet above sea level. People lived at the site, in the mountains of Ethiopia, as long as 47,000 years ago. The research contradicts the long-held view that high elevations were the last places on Earth settled by humans. That notion was based more on assumptions than hard evidence, it now appears. In East Africa, paleoanthropologists have long focused their attention on the Rift Valley and other archaeological sites at lower elevations. In Africa, even more tantalizing clues have come to light. Simple stone tools have been found at high elevations in Ethiopia, and they appear to be hundreds of thousands of years old. They might have been left there by members of our species — or an earlier hominid species. Still, it’s hard to know whether these findings mean that humans were living at these altitudes, or just making a brief sojourn.

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Here’s Why Living in Lagos Can Take a Mental Toll

The city is unhealthily crowded. Despite being the smallest state in the country, it has the highest urban population with an estimated population of 22 million people and counting, more than double New York or London’s tally. More than eight million people, moving in five million vehicles cram into a tiny network of just 9,100 roads every day. This is the reason why Lagosians spend an average of 30 hours in traffic each week — or 1,560 annually — while drivers in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic spent only 128 and 210 hours respectively in the whole of 2018. Traffic congestion, with its noise and environmental pollution, takes a huge toll on workers’ mental and physical health. Health professionals have even linked its overall damage to the increasing rate of suicide in the city. The situation is also killing workforce productivity. While working conditions across the globe are fast evolving, some Nigerian companies are reluctant to enable their employees to work from home. Traffic jam stifles both state and national economies. The Lagos business community alone loses $30.5 million monthly. While the gridlock at Nigeria’s largest seaport, Apapa, costs the country $19 billion annually — a loss higher than the country’s 2016 budget.SOURCE: CNN

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The Growing Tribe of Musicians Challenging Museveni

Inspired by rapper Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine’s quick rise from a political nobody to the Ugandan opposition’s strongest bet against incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, a wave of music artists is joining politics in the country, seeking election to positions ranging from the presidency to legislators, and mayors to district and village leadership. In a country with the world’s second-youngest population — only Niger’s median age is lower than Uganda’s nearly 16 years — they’re replacing mainstream politicians as torchbearers of hope for youth against Museveni’s government. In July 2018, Wine’s candidates won a third of all village-level elections across the country, even though their movement was less than a year old. Those wins also demonstrated that the campaign he is leading to unseat Museveni is finding resonance not just in urban Uganda, which mostly listens to pop music, but in the country’s rural hinterland too. 

SOURCE: OZY

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Luanda’s Rep as the Most Expensive City in the World has Come to an End

In contrast to the Angolan capital’s established ranking at the top of the annual cost of living index compiled by global consulting firm Mercer, it has tumbled in the last two years. Rankings released in June show Luanda placed 26th out of 209 cities—a twenty place drop from last year when it ranked 6th. In fact, Luanda is now the fourth highest ranked African city, behind Ndjamena, Kinshasa and Lagos. Mercer’s index is based on the prices of goods and services including food, utilities, transport logistics and accommodation (collectively referred to as a “basket”), that expats purchase. It then compares costs by converting prices from local currencies to US dollars. And that’s the root of Angola’s fall in the rankings: in Jan. 2018, the government ditched its currency peg to the dollar and essentially devalued its local kwanza currency. Luanda becoming cheaper for expats doesn’t make it cheaper for locals given their vastly different shopping preferences.

SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Residents of Tunisia’s Gabes Go on an Environmental Pushback

Close to the Chott Essalem beach and in front of a rare coastal oasis, the state-owned Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT) has been processing phosphate since the 1970s. Around 13,000 tonnes of chemicals and waste are channelled into a Tunisian bay that was once a rich spawning ground for marine life. Now devoid of the formerly plentiful fish and crabs, the locals call it the “fatal shore” and believe it is responsible for an increase in cancer and disease. As Tunisia plans to increase its export of phosphates, used in agricultural fertilizer, environmental groups are warning of the damage being done to land and sea. The Gulf of Gabes is an important spawning ground for Mediterranean fish. But phosphate mining and processing, industries that are important for Tunisia’s economy, have left it heavily polluted.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Does Zimbabwe have a Plan to Bring the Lights Back On?

Government has secured two loans of more than $42.5m from India to boost the generation of electricity in the country. The Herald Newspaper says the loans of $23m and $19.5m obtained from the Export-Import Bank of India are for upgrading power plants in Bulawayo and Hwange.  Business representatives believe the blackouts have cost the country $200m in lost revenue and that the new deal will unlikely ease rolling blackouts in the short term. Declining water levels in Lake Kariba have plunged most parts of the country into darkness for longer periods per day. There are fears that if the water levels continue to decline in Lake Kariba, power generation could stop by early October, which will almost complicate the situation.

SOURCE: THE HERALD

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The New Crop Keeping Kenyan Farmers Afloat

As drought and erratic weather wreak havoc across rural Kenya, a growing number of farmers are abandoning traditional crops such as maize and rice for the more lucrative muguka, a potent legal stimulant that relieves fatigue. A variety of khat, which produces a mild high when chewed, muguka is fast-growing, making it less vulnerable to large swings in weather conditions, and uses about half as much water as maize. But it is bad news for food supplies, said agriculture experts and local politicians, who warned of a potential food crop shortage as farmers clear their fields of staples to make way for muguka. There is no official record of how many farmers have switched from growing food crops to muguka, said Mwangi. Nor is there data on how much land is being used for muguka, according to Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA). But Francis Kimori, chair of the Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco, a savings and credit co-operative, estimated that four out of every five households around the Mount Kenya region, including in Embu County, are farming the stimulant in some quantity.SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Conflict and Climate Change Affect Religious Practices in Cameroon

Cameroon Muslims are looking for alternatives for the sacrifice as recommended by prophet Muhammad on the day of the Eid al-Adha feast. Sheep, traditionally slaughtered, have become very scarce as a result of the Boko Haram conflict and separatist war in the country’s main production areas. In 2016, the World Bank approved a $100 million fund to help Cameroon improve the productivity and competitiveness of livestock production over six years. It said besides replenishing what had been lost as a result of the Boko Haram conflict, the program would help build resilience to climate change and improve the nutrition status of vulnerable populations.

SOURCE: VOA

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The First African to be Made into a Barbie Doll

South African musician and businesswoman Lerato “Lira” Molapo has coined the term “African Barbie” by becoming the first African to have a Barbie doll made in her image. The ‘Lira doll’ is part of Barbie’s 60th-anniversary campaign to inspire more girls through diversity. Lira joins the global list with likes of tennis star Naomi Osaka, who tweeted earlier this year about being viewed as an influential female figure to young children. Other artists include Frida Kahlo, NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson, supermodel Adwoa Aboah, US actress Yara Shahidi and US filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Lira further announced how proud she is to be awarded a one-of-a-kind Lira Barbie doll.

SOURCE: iAFRICA

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Letter From Ethiopia

“This began as a letter written by my colleague and friend, Melissa Cook, Founder of African Sunrise Partners. She wrote to her family, explaining why she had been in a cone of silence for several days during the Addis Ababa portion of a two-week Africa trip.”— Teresa H. Clarke, Africa.com

Always the Most Interesting Country—This Time, for the Wrong Reasons

A regular business trip to Ethiopia—for the purpose of selling locomotives, meeting with business contacts, and speaking to policymakers—turned more eventful than usual starting on Saturday, June 22. Ethiopia is always one of the most interesting places in which I do business—during my September 2018 trip, the Prime Minister opened the border with Eritrea and released hundreds of political prisoners. The streets of Addis were filled with people, most of whom were celebrating. This time, things were a bit more difficult.

A Dinner Party Provides Insight—And Insightful Conversations

I arrived in Addis from Johannesburg on Friday afternoon and checked in to my usual hotel, the Radisson Blu. On Saturday evening, the internet went out and I did not know why.

On Sunday evening, my local business partner Taye invited me to join him with one of his business partners, the owner of a large pan-African civil engineering firm, for drinks and dinner. We had a relaxing evening in the executive’s beautiful home with a very diverse and interesting group of people.

Guests included a Canadian/Ethiopian healthcare and energy policy expert, a politician, a Sudanese intellectual working to organize support for civilian governance in his country, a leading Kenyan businessman, and an American entrepreneur seeking to disrupt the highly competitive Ethiopian beverage sector. Needless to say, the conversations were interesting and thought-provoking on many levels.

Tragic Politically-Motivated Killings

During the gathering I learned why the internet had gone out. On Saturday night the president of the northern Amhara state (the second most populous state, and the root of the country’s Amharic language) was assassinated along with two other officials and a bodyguard.

News sources including Reuters report that the killers had been released under the PM’s recent amnesty program for political prisoners. These sources also report that the group of assassins were trying to mount a coup in the state, and they went on to attack the police station and political headquarters, reportedly killing dozens of people.

Later the same night, the bodyguard to the military chief of staff murdered him and another general in central Addis.

To give Americans a sense of the magnitude of the shock, imagine that someone went into the governor of California’s office and shot him and his staff and then shot the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington in an effort to destabilize the president’s agenda.

Communications: Back to the 1980s

After the killings, the authorities immediately shut down the internet—even SMS texts would not go through. Everyone in Ethiopia (and across Africa) uses social media to communicate. Mass communications on Facebook, YouTube or WhatsApp can quickly escalate isolated incidents into a full-blown crisis (or, can turn small protests into a mass political movement). Life without the internet can be very challenging!

Fortunately, I had my 2G “feature phone”, a local SIM and lots of airtime. I successfully firmed up my meeting schedule using regular old direct phone calls. Just like in the 1980’s.

Buying a plane ticket from Addis to Nairobi was an interesting exercise at the Ethiopian Airlines ticket office inside the Hilton Hotel. Travelers arrived with backpacks filled with bricks of cash., and receipts were printed on dot-matrix printers. Fortunately, the Ethiopian Airlines servers were still working.

Given the gravity of the national security threat this time, no one in Addis criticized the shutdown. Everyone just adapted their business practices and work went on.

Ethiopia’s History is Complex—And We’re in an Era of Major Change

Ethiopia is a tribal society, and loyalties run very deep. After 1,000 years as a feudal state under an empire, the country went through decades of harsh Communist/Marxist rule under the military Derg government. Much of the Derg economic philosophy has remained; the current Prime Minister’s political and economic reforms are designed to change that for the people of Ethiopia. The concept of capitalism and free markets will take a generation to develop here. It is difficult for any outsider to fully understand the highly nuanced political and historical backdrop here.

Addis Ababa, the capital city, is at over 7,700 feet elevation. The country has vast mountain ranges, huge rivers and much diversity of land and people. Ethiopia has over 100 million people in a country three times the size of Texas. Half of the population is under the age of 18 and poverty is highly visible.

Drought, war, and famine have affected nearly every Ethiopian, either directly or through family. This reality shades philosophies, policies, and priorities throughout the country.

Prime Minister’s Reforms: Unleashing Long-Buried Passions and Conflicts

The current prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, is 43 years old and came to power in April 2018. He is a reformer and very progressive. Half of his new cabinet and the President of Ethiopia are women. He is shifting the economy toward a more market-driven, open approach. He is privatizing state-owned firms including Ethiopian Airlines, ethio telecom, the shipping and logistics company, sugar plantations, and more. Foreign investors are being allowed in to key sectors for the first time. But slowly. Retailing and banking remain closed to foreign investors.

Prime Minister Ahmed is opening up the political dialogue. This is always a risky proposition. In Ethiopia, the impact is magnified by the fact that until the election of the new PM, leaders from the minority Tigray ethnic group dominated political power for decades. Prime Minister Ahmed is from Oromia, the largest state in Ethiopia. Oromia has historically been under-represented in Ethiopia’s government, and its people have long sought more political self-determination. The Rio 2016 Olympic marathon winner who went through the finish line with his forearms crossed above his head represented this group.

The state has historically maintained tight control of the economy, national security, the media, and political discourse—but now, things are changing. This explains the bubbling up of long-suppressed disputes and grievances.

National Mourning

On Tuesday evening during dinner I watched the continuous Ethiopian TV coverage of the funerals which took place that day, and the commentary on the lives of the men who were killed (programming was in Amharic, but the visuals were easy to comprehend). All senior members of government attended the very emotional ceremony.

Postscript

The internet in Ethiopia was turned back on at about midnight on Thursday, but responsiveness has been spotty. News has been trickling out, and it’s clear that the danger was greater than the calm in Addis led us to believe. 

Despite the ever-changing situation, I remain bullish on Ethiopia. The unpredictability of this and other markets is just part of the cost of doing business in Africa, in my opinion, and it does not shake my long-term confidence in the continent’s potential for growth and prosperity.

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Kagame Launches Model Village For 240 Families

President Paul Kagame on Wednesday launched a model village in Karama Cell, Kigali Sector in Nyarugenge District which was built by Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Reserve Force.

The village – Karama Integrated Model Village – will be home to 240 families that were relocated from high risk zones around the City of Kigali.

It comprises living apartments, a secondary school, and an Early Childhood Development Centre (ECD).

Kagame was welcomed by thousands of residents from Nyarugenge and surrounding districts.

The launch of the village, which was built within a period of six months, is part of the activities lined up for the 25th anniversary of the national liberation, which was spearheaded by the then Rwanda Patriotic Army, which later became RDF.

Other activities lined up for the Liberation Day celebrations include a media tour held on Tuesday, where media practitioners in the country and within the region taken for a guided tour to different sites of historical significance to the four-year liberation struggle that started in October 1994 and ended in July 1994.

Other planned activities include the screening of The600, a movie that tells an inspirational story that honors the sacrifice and courage of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers through the eyes of the 3rd Battalion better known as The 600.

The documentary film will be screened on Wednesday evening.

The 600 soldiers, were meant to offer protection to politicians from Rwanda Patriotic Front who were supposed to be part of a transitional government as negotiated between RPF and the then government.

Their mandate however suddenly changed after the then government started killing its own people in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and the force, which was already surrounded, was ordered by President Kagame, the then commander in chief, to do everything possible to stop the Genocide.

They later left their base at the current Parliamentary Building and managed to rescue thousands of Tutsis in Kigali and surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the celebrations will be the national celebration to be held on Thursday July 4 at Amahoro National Stadium.

At least seven foreign presidents are expected to attend the ceremony that will be presided over by President Kagame.

Source: NewsTimeRwanda

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Women Do Not Need To Be Extraordinary To Be Admirable”

The latest issue of British Vogue is dedicated to “Forces of Change,” one of whom is Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who cites her hopes for women and society. “Policy is important, laws are important but changing cultural norms and mindsets matter even more,” came Adichie’s response, when Vogue asked how we can bring about change. “Take ambition, for example. We praise ambitious men, and judge ambitious women. The behaviour is the same; the body exhibiting it is different.” Regarded as one of the most original writers of her generation, Adichie’s novels, which include Purple Hibiscus (her first, published when she was just 26 years old), Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah have been read, and loved, by millions, claiming some of the most prestigious prizes in literature along the way.   

SOURCES: BRITISH VOGUE

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New Species of Dinosaur Discovered After Decades in South African Museum

Initially misidentified as a common form of dinosaur, Massospondylus, one of the first named dinosaurs. The remains of a South African creature that had been hidden in plain sight in a museum collection for 30 years have now been identified as something entirely new. A detailed analysis of the 200m-year-old skeleton, which includes an almost complete skull, led researchers to conclude that the remains not only represented a new species but belonged to an entirely new genus too. Named Ngwevu intloko, which is Xhosa for “grey skull”, the creature measured about 4m from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail and may have weighed as much as 300kg. It walked on its hind legs and had a barrel-shaped body, a long, slender neck and a small, boxy skull. Though predominantly a plant-eater, Ngwevu may have taken small animals too when the opportunity arose.    

SOURCES: CNN

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Architect Sename Koffi Agbodjinou on Building African Smart Cities

Countries across Africa have been excited by the prospect of building technologically-advanced, “smart” cities, but a Togolese architect is prompting new dialogue on how African innovation can help to revive existing cities and advance the poor.  Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou has been working on building a different kind of “smart city”. To him a smart African city is about more than images of tall buildings. “You can have a very old city that is smart just because a lot of little technology. Those people who are talking about smart cities in Africa should show us the technology they want to implement in the city to make it smart. What I also say is that if it is an African smart city project, you have to make the effort to use technology developed in Africa,” he says.

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

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Mati Diop’s ‘Atlantiques’ Will Be Making Its US Debut at the 57th New York Film Festival

After critical acclaim at Cannes, ‘Atlantiques,’ a film about the refugee crisis by Senegalese-French director Mati Diop, is now about to hit the big screen in America. Diop’s film is a response to the migrant/refugee crisis, following the story of a young woman from Dakar whose lover has mysteriously disappeared. Believed to be dead, he returns to their village in Senegal.  

SOURCES: OKAYAFRICA

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David Adjaye Designs Magdalene Odundo’s Ceramics Exhibition at Sainsbury Centre

It’s beauty and drama on display at the latest exhibit at London’s Sainsbury Centre, which features the work of Kenyan-born artist, Magdalene Odundo, in an environment designed by acclaimed architect, David Adjaye. A series of ovoid, round and semi-circular plinths in various shades of grey have been arranged in the six interconnected spaces that house the exhibition. “The concept inspiration is derived from an archipelago, a cluster of objects found within an open space,” said Adjaye. Interspersed with more than 50 pieces of Odundo’s work are a selection of objects chosen by the artist from around the world. More than 30 of these objects are taken from the Sainsbury Centre’s permanent collection.

SOURCES: DEZEEN

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Angola is Home to One of Africa’s Biggest Waterfalls

The Kalendula Falls, boast an impressive width of 410 metres and a drop of 105 metres. The thundering noise, mist and setting are overwhelming. The best way to experience the falls is by hire car from Luanda, a six-hour drive on fairly rudimentary roads through varied landscapes. Alternatively, travel by train to the regional capital, Malanje, and then drive north for an hour via Lombe and Calandula. Stay at the charming Pousada Calandula. The six rooms have incredible views and the noise of the waterfall. The falls are best enjoyed from the B&B’s veranda with its bar. 

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Seychelles has Africa’s Best Wild Beach

This isn’t your typical tropical hideaway: you need to trek through a vanilla and coconut plantation to reach these pink-hued shores in the Seychelles. You can see how copra (dried coconut kernel) is made at an on-site mill, and visit a cemetery where the first settlers on the island are buried. When the heat starts to get too much, head in the direction of the giant rock formations and you’ll find your way to picture-perfect Anse Source d’Argent. Here, weathered granite boulders are nestled firmly in the rosy sands looking out over crystalline waters, and you can snorkel to catch a glimpse of giant tortoises gliding by. Once you’ve earned your place on this seaside slice of heaven, you’ll never want to leave.

SOURCES: LONELY PLANET

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The Most Visited Attraction in all of Morocco

Luring 850 000 tourists a year, Le Jardin Majorelle, rescued by Yves St. Laurent, is now overrun by tourists. Once you’re inside, the scene usually leans far from serene. Travellers swarm the blocky buildings and pack the palm-shaded paths, snapping selfies. The snug, on-site Berber Museum provides some crowd relief with exhibits of colorful costumes and angular jewelry from the Moroccan tribe that inspired both Majorelle and YSL. During their first jaunt to Morocco in 1966, French-Algerian fashion designer Yves St. Laurent and his lover and business partner Pierre Bergé discovered Marrakesh’s Jardin Majorelle, a decrepit two-plus acre complex of plantings, cubist buildings and fountains created by early 20th-century French artist Jacques Majorelle in the tony Gueliz neighborhood.


SOURCES: IOL

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Ghana’s Tranquil Escape from the Clogged Capital

Aburi is an escape from Ghana’s traffic- and waste-clogged capital. Forty-five minutes away (or less, depending on how enthusiastic you are to get there), the town is a carpet of green — mountains, hills, banana and palm trees — bursting in every direction. Located in the Akuapim South municipal district of Ghana’s eastern region, it is part of the Akwapim-Togo mountain range, with hills averaging 1,500 feet. Hills hushed in silence, interrupted by the occasional songful chirp of birds. The Botanical Gardens (20 GHC, or $5), opened in 1890 and occupying about 64.8 hectares of land, is home to 350 plant species and is literally the seedbed of the production of cocoa and rubber in southern Ghana. It’s the perfect place to set up a picnic, lie in the grass, listen to the whistle of trees and enjoy the cool air. There are also birds and butterflies to spot. Centuries-old trees to marvel at. A picturesque procession of palm trees at the entrance.

SOURCES: OZY

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What Went Down at Gabon’s First Event Dedicated to Jazz Music

Music lovers were treated to good music at the “Gaboma jazz rock festival”. The open air concert in the heart of the Gabonese capital Libreville. The richness and originality of this genre of music was the basis for this unique music festival. Some 100 artists and groups took part in the Jazz music festival which attracted hundreds of music lovers who had fun at the free outdoor concert. Due to the unique history of Libreville a city founded by freed slaves, organizers wanted to popularize this genre of music, which originated from the southern part of the United States from African-American culture. To do this, the majority of the work was reserved for local amateur and experienced groups and artists. “We were thinking, jazz in the heart of the 6th arrondissement, we’re going to do it, but we don’t know. So as people came, we educated the audience that came in droves today and sang with us. They kept singing with us, that made me cry, said Gabonese artist Naneth Nkoghe.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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Africa Scrambles to Build Innovation Hubs across the Continent

A recent meeting of stakeholders of the Africa50 infrastructure fund warned countries that if they continue at the current rate of industrialisation, and fail to invest in their knowledge economies, they will face 100m jobless citizens across the region by 2050. Innovation ecosystems require basic infrastructure, such as road networks and ports, digital infrastructure including cheap broadband, supportive business and regulatory environments, technology, and talented scientific and mathematical minds, and in too many countries these basics are desperately lacking. Africa50 is drawing from a $871m fund to deploy early-stage risk capital to help lure local and global talent to Africa by giving early-stage startups and hi-tech ventures the financial freedom to grow.But as countries scramble for resources to build their digital ecosystems, areas of the continent are still struggling for electricity to power basic digital technology. Bridging the continent’s infrastructure gap is estimated to cost $160bn a year – without this, the potential of innovation hubs may be a distant dream.
 

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Ghana Named as Host of the African Continental Free Trade Area

In support of the new trade bloc, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo pledged to donate $10 million to the AU to support the operationalization of the secretariat of the AfCFTA. Although the AfCFTA will be economically transformative for Africa in the long-term, the immediate benefits will be restricted due to the macro-economic uncertainties of regional trade. The opportunities for Africa with this new trade bloc are immense. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that the AfCFTA will create the world’s largest continental free-trade area, provided all 55 African Union (AU) members join, and has the potential to create an African single market of 1.2 billion consumers whilst eliminating about 90% of tariffs on goods over the next five years. The AfCFTA is expected to boost the economies of African countries through employment creation and the promotion of made-in-Africa goods. But Kayode Akindele, a partner at TIA Capital, a pan-African investment partnership focussed on credit-based investing across sub-Saharan Africa, is not opening up the bubbly just yet.
 

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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South Africa’s Central Bank Outlines Quick Moves to Save the Economy

Removing policy uncertainty in South Africa, allocating new broadband spectrum and changing visa regulations could immediately boost the country’s flagging economy and reduce the crisis-level unemployment rate, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Kuben Naidoo said. While the central bank has long called on government for structural reforms to lift economic growth, its senior leaders have until now been reluctant to flag specific changes that could be made and have simply said these fall beyond the scope of monetary policy and the inflation-targeting mandate. Rolling out the 5G network to accommodate new spectrum allocation could boost direct investment by between 0.25% to 0.5% of gross domestic product, lower data costs and create new markets. Relaxing visa laws for tourists, which can be done “with a click of the finger”, could create as many as 300 000 full time and 600 000 part-time jobs for every 1 million visitors to the country, making inroads into the 29% unemployment rate, Naidoo said. Making it easier for skilled migrants to live and work in the country should be a “no-brainer” because that could create four unskilled jobs per skilled migrant, he said.

SOURCES: FIN24

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The Impact Of Lab-Grown Diamonds On The African Diamond Trade

Prior to the political war thriller Blood Diamond being released onto the silver screen in 2006, most of the world was blissfully unaware of the immense suffering often associated with the African diamond industry.  While diamonds are inherently associated with love, joy, and commitment, many inhabitants of Africa’s diamond-producing countries believe that the shimmering stones are more of a curse than a blessing. Up to this day, diamond mining still fuels a number of evils including worker exploitation, environmental dilapidation, and brutal civil wars. When you purchase a lab-grown diamond you can be 100% sure of its origin. Not only are diamonds that are grown in the lab genuinely conflict-free but they are also significantly more environmentally-friendly as well as substantially more affordable. The African environment can benefit greatly by increased demand for grown diamonds as they do not result in erosion water and soil contamination, loss of biodiversity, and the creation of sinkholes whatsoever. 
 

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Gloves Off in the Zambia vs Vedanta Row

The government of Zambia has defended its efforts to kick London-based copper miner Vedanta Resources out of the country, in an escalating row over tax and alleged underinvestment. The southern African nation’s national mining vehicle, ZCCM, is seeking to have Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), its partner in the country’s largest copper mine, placed into liquidation. Vedanta responded earlier this week by seeking to have the case referred to arbitration in South Africa. A South African court has ruled that the sale process should be halted but the government has pressed on regardless. One source within the Zambian tax authorities said the company owed about $100m in VAT, customs duties and other taxes, even once refunds due to the company were taken into account. The source added that KCM, which has previously been criticised over pollution, has also withheld $10m in dividend payments.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Building Green Breweries in Africa

Diageo, the British owner of iconic brands including Guinness and Johnny Walker, is going green at brewing sites across Africa with an ambitious $218 million investment drive. The beverages multinational will overhaul the electricity mix at its African brewing sites across the continent and install solar power, biomass boilers and new water recovery equipment. The spending consists of an initial $60 million upfront investment in equipment and installation with $158 million earmarked for long-term maintenance and operations costs. The plans are a key commitment in one of Diageo’s most important market with the continent currently accounting for 13% of its global sales. And there’s potential for significant upside as Africa’s $13 billion beer market is the fastest growing globally. But the increased focus of global brewers targeting market share in Africa (in some cases by producing both premium beer brands and locally brewed low-end options), also comes with the risk of alcohol-related health problems as the African market is doubly attractive for brewers given weaker regulation for sales and advertising compared to western markets.

SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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African Bank Sets Agenda for Regional Integration

Ethiopia and the African Development Bank Group have signed a $98 million grant agreement from the African Development Fund (ADF) to help finance phase one of the Ethiopia–Djibouti Road Transport Corridor Project. The total cost of the project is $255 million, comprising an ADF grant of $98 million to the government of Ethiopia, an ADF grant of $5.3 million to the government of Djibouti and a co-financing contribution of $151 million by the government of Ethiopia. The project will kick off in 2020 and be implemented over a five-year period. The ADF grant to land-locked Ethiopia’s road transport sector is part of the Bank’s efforts to boost regional integration and connectivity, especially access to seaports. The project consists of the construction of the first 60 km of a 4-lane expressway section of the new 126 km stretch from Adama to Awash and includes the design of a one-stop border post at Dewele. The project will enhance trade by significantly reducing transport costs, thereby accelerating the economic growth of Ethiopia and its neighbour Djibouti, as it is part of the main import-export corridor. The expressway is expected to improve access to markets for farmers and rural communities. Other beneficiaries include some 3,000 truck-drivers who work the 900 km between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, and youths, who will receive over 95% of the job opportunities during the construction phase.

SOURCE: AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

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REPORT: The “Grand-scale Corruption” which the Sassou-Nguesso Family Continues to Engage

A new investigation by anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has discovered the apparent theft of more than $50 million in public funds from the Republic of Congo by Denis Christel “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso, son of the country’s president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The resulting report alleges the younger Sassou-Nguesso, 44, laundered the money through a “complex and opaque corporate structure” spanning six European countries, the British Virgin Islands, and the US state of Delaware. It’s far from the first time the nation’s first family has been accused of embezzling funds from their country’s treasury. In 2007, Global Witness fingered Kiki, a Congolese parliamentarian, as having spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that may derive from sales of state oil on lavish designer shopping sprees in Paris, Marbella and Dubai.” His sister, Claudia Sassou-Nguesso—also an elected member of Congo’s parliament—allegedly pilfered nearly $20 million in state monies to buy a condo in New York City’s Trump International Hotel & Tower, according to a Global Witness report released in April. (The Congolese government called the charges “fake news.”)

SOURCE: DEUTSCHE WELLE

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Madagascar’s First Locally Owned Sea-cucumber Farm

In much of the Far East, sea cucumbers are a delicacy, fetching a high price for their purported health benefits. In Tampolove, a tiny windswept village of mud huts and sandy paths squeezed between the coast and the forest in south-west Madagascar, they have provided a major boost to the local economy and environment. The delicacy is transforming the lives of people who have typically earned no more than a dollar a day, while at the same time helping to alleviate the pressure on marine species. Sea cucumbers belong to the echinoderm family, along with starfish and urchins, and come in all shapes and sizes. They spend their days buried in silt, emerging at night to feed, sifting through the sediment for particles, a practice that provides an essential filtration service that benefits the wider ecosystem. n 2004 the local community, with the support of a British NGO, Blue Ventures, came together to decide what to do about the rapid decline in fish and octopus stocks in their coastal waters. They set up an association, comprising representatives from several villages on this stretch of coast, whose responsibility it would be to manage fishing and the environment. They called the protected area Velondriake, which translates from the Vezo language as “to live with the sea”.
 

SOURCE: BBC

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The Only Person Who Could Get Through to Joseph Kony

When Betty Bigombe was growing up in northern Uganda in the late 1950s, she walked four miles a day to go to school. She knew getting an education was the only way she could change her life and make a contribution to her community. Thirty years later her “contribution” would be to carry the fate of her region on her shoulders as she attempted to negotiate peace with Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The Lord’s Resistance Army sent Bigombe a letter saying Ugandan Presiden Yoweri Museveni had insulted them by sending a woman to negotiate. They threatened to kill her but she stayed – determined to end the war. Then they sent a victim of Kony’s violence to deliver a second letter in person. Not deterred, Bigombe decided to write back to Kony. She referred to him as “my son” and used religion as a way of connecting with him. In the next 18 months, during several face-to-face meetings, Kony started calling her “Mummy” Bigombe. Eventually he agreed to come out of the jungle for peace talks with President Museveni.SOURCE: BBC

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Mali is the Most Dangerous Country in the World for UN Peacekeepers

So far 123 have died and 358 have been severely wounded in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations. Two hundred and fifty highly trained British ground troops are scheduled to be deployed in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2020, they don’t know where they are heading or what precisely they will be doing, but they do know it will be risky. The British deployment comes at the request of the UN mission in the west African country, known as Operation Minusma. According to UK sources, the request was based on the assertion that the British army was uniquely positioned to offer much-needed intelligence capabilities. After other European countries had contributed, arguably it was also Britain’s turn.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Africa.com Talks to the Women of GE Africa

Meet Welela Dawit, who is the CFO of GE Africa as well as the CFO of the gas power systems and power services business for sub-Saharan Africa. By having a dual role she has multiple capacities and understand areas of responsibility. First and foremost it’s ensuring the controller-ship of compliance in terms of how we work and record our financial performance, I am supportive of driving commercial growth initiatives particularly in our gas powered business and it’s also all about leadership development of our finance pipeline and ensuring we’ve got future finance talent growing within the system and being able to take on bigger and better roles down the road. Adesua Dozie is the general counsel for GE Africa and general counsel for the gas power systems and services business for sub-Saharan Africa.  She manages legal reputation and commercial risk across the continent ensuring that we’re able to do our business sustainably, managing the company’s reputation and ensuring that the growth and our future pipeline is protected and sustained. And co-chairs the GE Women’s Network for sub-Saharan Africa it’s an affinity group that promotes recruitment, retention and support of women across the continent.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Another Loss Puts a Dent in South Africa’s Public Protector’s Image

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa won a court case against the anti-corruption watchdog on Thursday over a matter concerning ally Pravin Gordhan, ahead of a fresh battle over findings against the president himself. A high court judge found that Ramaphosa had acted reasonably in not immediately disciplining Gordhan, the public enterprises minister, over a decision regarding the retirement of a tax official in 2010. Thursday’s ruling was the third high-profile court defeat for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in as many weeks, potentially undermining the credibility of her investigations, including one into Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa secured an “interdict” from the court, meaning he does not have to implement disciplinary action against Gordhan while Gordhan appeals against the finding by Mkhwebane. The public protector has authority enshrined in the constitution to investigate alleged wrongdoing by public officials and demand remedial action, and her binding rulings can have far-reaching consequences.

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Measuring the Impact of Having Breast Milk Clinics on the Continent

Medical experts in Kenya are banking on human breast milk to save the lives of newborn babies. Nairobi’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital has set up East Africa’s first breast milk bank  the second in Africa — to provide donated milk to babies in need. Kenya’s Ministry of Health and PATH, a U.S.-based nonprofit health organization, launched the milk bank plan in March with the hope of reducing the number of newborn deaths which are currently at 39 per every 1,000 live births. The milk bank is for premature babies, those born with low birth weight and those whose mothers may not be able to breastfeed them. While only 58 babies have benefitted from the milk bank so far, hospital staff said more mothers are leaving with healthy newborns. The breast milk bank is the first in East Africa and the second opened on the continent after South Africa. The WHO says premature babies have a higher chance of survival if fed breast milk instead of formula. Kenyan authorities plan to set up other milk banks across the country, if the one in Nairobi proves a success.

SOURCE: VOA

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Working as a Cultural Dancer at a Nightclub in Kenya

An increasing number of women and girls are leaving South Asian nations such as Nepal, India and Pakistan to work in Bollywood-style dance bars in Kenya’s adult entertainment industry – many illegally – according to anti-trafficking activists and police. There is no official data on the numbers but the results of police raids, combined with figures on the repatriation of rescued women, suggest scores of women and underage girls are victims of organised human trafficking from South Asia to Kenya. Latest figures from Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) showed 43 women and girls were repatriated from dance bars in Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania in 2016-2017. The so-called mujra dance bars are common in India. Here, young women dance to Bollywood music for money from male patrons. These bars have mushroomed in cities including Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, where there are countless Kenyans of South Asian descent. In recent years, police raids on mujra bars uncovered organised human trafficking from South Asia to Kenya, a trend highlighted by the United States in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Social Media Reels from Images of Zimbabwe’s Former Strongman

Ex-Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is still under observation after a four-month stay in a Singapore hospital, Zimbabwe’s President has announced. Speculation about Mugabe’s health has swirled amid his visits to Singapore for treatment, but this is the first time the government has disclosed how long he’s spent at the hospital. Details of his ailment remain a mystery. “Unlike in the past when the former President would require just a month for this, his physicians this time around determined that he be kept under observation for much longer,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Monday in a statement. Mugabe’s condition was stable, and he was responding “very well” to treatment, Mnangagwa said, citing physicians and senior government officials who visited the ex-President in July.

SOURCE: CNN

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South African Police Praised for Raids of Illegal Goods

The chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs welcomed the arrest of illegal immigrants during a multi-organisation raid in inner Johannesburg’s central business district (CBD). “It must remain clear that while legal and developmental immigration is encouraged and can be beneficial to the growth prospects of the country, we remain steadfast that illegal immigration must be discouraged at all times,” officials said in a statement. South African Police Service (SAPS) carried out a second raid in Johannesburg on Wednesday. More than 600 foreign nationals have been jailed. This follows after police were chased out of the area by business owners after the authorities tried to confiscate counterfeit products last week. A massive outcry from the public ensued after videos of the police running away from vendors, many of them foreign nationals went viral on social media platforms. Police vehicles were pummeled with rocks and police fled the area. According to Bongo, migration is a reality that South Africa must accept and leverage for development and economic growth. SOURCE: IOL

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Uganda’s Para-Badminton Team Prepares for the World Championships

The team has the second-highest ranked player in Africa and aims to compete at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo, when Para-Badminton will make its debut. But limited resources make their participation uncertain. Elizabeth Mwesigwa is Uganda’s para-badminton champion and the second highest-ranking player in Africa. But Mwesigwa says they are sorely under-resourced, have to buy their own equipment, and often train themselves. Uganda’s players look forward to the international exposure, despite the challenges they face at home. Para-Badminton will make its debut at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo. The event in Basel will be the first Paralympic qualifier.

SOURCE: VOA

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What Went Down at Gabon’s First Event Dedicated to Jazz Music

Music lovers were treated to good music at the “Gaboma jazz rock festival”. The open air concert in the heart of the Gabonese capital Libreville. The richness and originality of this genre of music was the basis for this unique music festival. Some 100 artists and groups took part in the Jazz music festival which attracted hundreds of music lovers who had fun at the free outdoor concert. Due to the unique history of Libreville a city founded by freed slaves, organizers wanted to popularize this genre of music, which originated from the southern part of the United States from African-American culture. To do this, the majority of the work was reserved for local amateur and experienced groups and artists. “We were thinking, jazz in the heart of the 6th arrondissement, we’re going to do it, but we don’t know. So as people came, we educated the audience that came in droves today and sang with us. They kept singing with us, that made me cry, said Gabonese artist Naneth Nkoghe.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Finding The Right Financing For Your Business

No matter what the economy is doing in Africa, there is little that can starve the entrepreneurial spirit of the continent. So, it is encouraging that aspiring small business owners have the potential to see a good profit. 

The banking sector is meeting start-up demands with comprehensive financing products with world-class terms. Your choice of loan has the power to make your business fly or drown, though, so make your decision count. 

Here we discuss some of the options so that you can find the one that will work for you.

Asset-based lending

Asset-based lenders make their profits through interest, so they’re best for short-term finance. Since they’re secured by your business assets, they come with their share of risk, but they have fewer restrictions and more flexibility than traditional products. 

Most asset-based loans function as revolving lines of credit designed to spur growth. They offer short term liquidity and serve stable companies with solid business credit scores. 

Unsecured or secured loans 

Small and medium enterprises are enormously promising for the growing banking industry, but their size makes them too small for traditional commercial loans and too big for the microfinance sector. Unsecured loans are designed to bridge the gap. 

They don’t require collateral, but that amplifies lender risk. Banks look for a few trust points to steady that shaky ground. You’ll need a stellar credit rating, a solid business plan, and detailed cash flow analysis, including interest and monthly payments. 

Secured loans use collateral to improve risk and push interest rates into more practical territory. They’re the most accessible type of loan, but you might have to restructure your mortgage and offer your home up as security. If you have more than one property and need quick, easy financing, a secured loan will open your company doors sooner rather than later.

Bank loan

Top-rated banks package bank loans as business or start-up loans. This niche is highly competitive, so you’ll find a versatile range of well-designed products here. Loans can be provided as an overdraft, revolving credit, or fixed-term products. The latter lets you repay at intervals that suit your cash-flow, so it’s a perfect product for start-ups. 

Contract financing is a once-off or regular use loan for businesses that are contract-based. As an example, some large South African banks have black economic empowerment policies in place to favour black-owned SMMEs. Others offer specialised products that support BEE principles in the form of leveraged finance and advisory services. Many offer plenty of advice and funding on BEE acquisitions and mergers, helping you to structure a tax-efficient deal. 

Make sure you research what particular bank loans will be available to you.

Bank loans demand a sturdy business plan and an impressive credit rating. In return, you get to work with a reputable lender with a long history behind it. 

Seller loans 

If you’re buying an existing business, the seller may offer you a loan to cover your purchase price. This product is symbiotic, giving you the funds you need while allowing the seller to earn interest. 

Seller loans are usually used as a portion of the capital stack rather than its primary source. Sellers will, however, require a good credit score. Even so, this option can offer you cheaper and more accessible financing, with quicker closing to boot.

Alternatives

  • Government grants: Governments in most countries on the continent will have loans available to entrepreneurs that are looking to start a business. 
  • Revenue-based financing: An investor gives you capital upfront in exchange for a cut of your future profits.
  • Pawn loans: Short term loans offered in exchange for assets. No credit checks are needed.
  • Crowdfunding: Funding is provided through sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe in exchange for a fee.
  • Angel investing: A wealthy individual invests personal capital in your company in exchange for equity.
  • Venture capital investing: Capital is provided in exchange for portfolio benefits, media exposure, and other portfolio benefits.

And, remember that banks and lenders rely on your money to turn a profit. Your business’ success is their success, so don’t treat your lender as a service offering. You are the client, and your loan is profitable to them. 

Don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms of your loan when you are looking to start or buy a business. Your funding should be just as profitable to you, though. Choosing a product with exorbitant fees and impossible interest rates creates no foundation for a successful future.

By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Director for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses.  

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Nigerian Boy Builds his Own Computer Games at 9

Basil Okpara Jr. is building a hide and seek game, using a free programming application called Scratch 2. The app allows users to create games, animations, and stories online or offline. So far, Basil has used it to generate more than 30 mobile games. “I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored,” Basil told CNN. In March, his father signed him up for a five-day boot camp for children aged 5 to 15. The camp, organized by Codefest International, was put in place to give children like Basil access to emerging technologies like robotics and virtual reality. Basil, who wants to be a scientist in the future, titles his games based on what they are about. The games are still in their raw form and can currently only be accessed on computers that have Scratch 2 installed. But according to his father one of them, titled Frog attack, will be available to the public on Google play store in August.SOURCE: CNN

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Gloves Off in the Zambia vs Vedanta Row

The government of Zambia has defended its efforts to kick London-based copper miner Vedanta Resources out of the country, in an escalating row over tax and alleged underinvestment. The southern African nation’s national mining vehicle, ZCCM, is seeking to have Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), its partner in the country’s largest copper mine, placed into liquidation. Vedanta responded earlier this week by seeking to have the case referred to arbitration in South Africa. A South African court has ruled that the sale process should be halted but the government has pressed on regardless. One source within the Zambian tax authorities said the company owed about $100m in VAT, customs duties and other taxes, even once refunds due to the company were taken into account. The source added that KCM, which has previously been criticised over pollution, has also withheld $10m in dividend payments.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Building Green Breweries in Africa

Diageo, the British owner of iconic brands including Guinness and Johnny Walker, is going green at brewing sites across Africa with an ambitious $218 million investment drive. The beverages multinational will overhaul the electricity mix at its African brewing sites across the continent and install solar power, biomass boilers and new water recovery equipment. The spending consists of an initial $60 million upfront investment in equipment and installation with $158 million earmarked for long-term maintenance and operations costs. The plans are a key commitment in one of Diageo’s most important market with the continent currently accounting for 13% of its global sales. And there’s potential for significant upside as Africa’s $13 billion beer market is the fastest growing globally. But the increased focus of global brewers targeting market share in Africa (in some cases by producing both premium beer brands and locally brewed low-end options), also comes with the risk of alcohol-related health problems as the African market is doubly attractive for brewers given weaker regulation for sales and advertising compared to western markets.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Rwanda and Congo Discourage Travel across their Border

Travel restrictions are part of measures taken by Rwandan and Congolese health officials who met in Rwanda. According to a statement issued at the end of the meeting, people traveling across the border for non-essential reasons such as attending workshops and religious crusades will need clearance from both governments. The Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo has killed more than 1,800 people. Rwanda briefly closed its border with Congo last week after a patient tested positive for Ebola in Goma, a Congolese city of more than 2 million people about 7 kilometers from Rwanda’s main border town of Gisenyi.

SOURCE: VOA

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Protect, Support and Empower Girls in Lake Chad Region

As Lake Chad enters its 10th year of conflict, millions of young girls are being used and manipulated in grotesque ways. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), says the Lake Chad region (specifically in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger) is struggling with “the compounded impact of climate change, deep poverty, and violent extremism.” A report by Plan International has revealed that over 15% of girls aged 10-19 had been married at least once or were currently married. As a result, the levels of girls’ education have drastically decreased. Some initiatives include strengthening of social and emotional learning; building confidence; fostering relationships; harmonizing with their communities to build safe environments; economic empowerment and adequate education have been introduced to mitigate the circumstances. However, it is important to educate the boys as well, she noted.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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The World’s Top Cocoa Producers Coordinate on 2020-2021 Cocoa Bean Prices

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have joined forces to impose a floor price for cocoa of $2,600 per tonne and a live income differential of $400 per tonne. “We will not sell the 2020-21 crop for below $2,600 per tonne,” Ivorian President Ouattara said in a televised address. He also said he wanted the guaranteed price for farmers to return to 2015 levels of $1.71 per kilogramme from the current level of $1.28 per kilogramme. The move is a dramatic change of course from only a few weeks ago. On July 16, Ghana and the Ivory Coast had given in to pressure from the global chocolate industry and lifted a month-long ban on cocoa sales that was meant to push international buyers to accept a  $2,600-a-tonne minimum agreement. At the time, the two countries settled for a fixed premium price under which farmers in Ghana and the Ivory Coast would get $400 premium per every tonne of cocoa beans they sell during the 2020-2021 harvest season.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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South Africa Calls Out Airlines Flouting Procedures

The Department of Home Affairs has issued over R25 million in fines to airlines for bringing illegal foreigners to South Africa. In a recent parliamentary Q&A session, the department said that conveyance fines are issued to airlines where such contraventions occur. While the department did not provide information on how many foreigners travelled to the country, its fine data shows that Emirates is the biggest offender  – receiving R6,960,000 in fines during 2017/18 and R2,670,000 in fines during 2016/17. The next biggest offenders were South African Airways (R4.4 million in fines in 2017/18) and Ethiopian Airlines (R4.1 million in fines in 2017/18). It added that no arrangements have been made with regards to ‘arrears’ as fines are not regarded as debt. These fines are typically given out to ‘inattentive’ airlines who did not properly follow procedure when checking passengers for valid documents.

SOURCE: BUSINESSTECH

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African Bank Sets Agenda for Regional Integration

Ethiopia and the African Development Bank Group have signed a $98 million grant agreement from the African Development Fund (ADF) to help finance phase one of the Ethiopia–Djibouti Road Transport Corridor Project. The total cost of the project is $255 million, comprising an ADF grant of $98 million to the government of Ethiopia, an ADF grant of $5.3 million to the government of Djibouti and a co-financing contribution of $151 million by the government of Ethiopia. The project will kick off in 2020 and be implemented over a five-year period. The ADF grant to land-locked Ethiopia’s road transport sector is part of the Bank’s efforts to boost regional integration and connectivity, especially access to seaports. The project consists of the construction of the first 60 km of a 4-lane expressway section of the new 126 km stretch from Adama to Awash and includes the design of a one-stop border post at Dewele. The project will enhance trade by significantly reducing transport costs, thereby accelerating the economic growth of Ethiopia and its neighbour Djibouti, as it is part of the main import-export corridor. The expressway is expected to improve access to markets for farmers and rural communities. Other beneficiaries include some 3,000 truck-drivers who work the 900 km between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, and youths, who will receive over 95% of the job opportunities during the construction phase.SOURCE: AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

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Madagascar’s First Locally Owned Sea-cucumber Farm

In much of the Far East, sea cucumbers are a delicacy, fetching a high price for their purported health benefits. In Tampolove, a tiny windswept village of mud huts and sandy paths squeezed between the coast and the forest in south-west Madagascar, they have provided a major boost to the local economy and environment. The delicacy is transforming the lives of people who have typically earned no more than a dollar a day, while at the same time helping to alleviate the pressure on marine species. Sea cucumbers belong to the echinoderm family, along with starfish and urchins, and come in all shapes and sizes. They spend their days buried in silt, emerging at night to feed, sifting through the sediment for particles, a practice that provides an essential filtration service that benefits the wider ecosystem. n 2004 the local community, with the support of a British NGO, Blue Ventures, came together to decide what to do about the rapid decline in fish and octopus stocks in their coastal waters. They set up an association, comprising representatives from several villages on this stretch of coast, whose responsibility it would be to manage fishing and the environment. They called the protected area Velondriake, which translates from the Vezo language as “to live with the sea”.

SOURCE: BBC

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Egypt’s Hajj Season is Written All Over the Walls

Eid Al Salwaawi, 69, paints murals of the rituals of the hadj pilgrimage on the walls of a house in Cairo’s Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood. Sometimes he volunteers to paint scenes that celebrate the hadj and religious stories and lessons, other times he is paid. Every year, Muslims travel from around the world to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to complete the hadj, one of the five pillars of their faith. This year’s hadj will conclude on Sunday. Salwaawi said the hdaj scenes he saw on the walls of houses in his home village as a child in northern Aswan captured his imagination. He uses simple tools like a handmade palm frond brush and a mixture of paint, vinegar, rosewater, gum Arabic and glue. He adorns his works with prayers and Koranic verses. Each mural takes him between two and three hours.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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New Species Alert

Fossil hunters have discovered a new species of dinosaur that has been hidden in plain sight in a South African museum collection for 30 years. The fossilised bones had been misidentified as a peculiar specimen of Massospondylus, one of the first named dinosaurs. But a detailed analysis of the 200m-year-old skeleton, which includes an almost complete skull, led researchers to conclude that the remains not only represented a new species but belonged to an entirely new genus too. Named Ngwevu intloko, which is Xhosa for “grey skull”, the creature measured about 4m from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail and may have weighed as much as 300kg. It walked on its hind legs and had a barrel-shaped body, a long, slender neck and a small, boxy skull. Though predominantly a plant-eater, Ngwevu may have taken small animals too when the opportunity arose.SOURCE: CNN

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Dealing with the Elephant in Botswana

The country has lifted a ban on elephant hunting, which was imposed in 2014, citing the challenges faced by small-scale farmers by a growing elephant population. Home to Africa’s largest herd of 130,000, Botswana is famed as the continent’s last safe haven for the world’s largest mammals, but that could change as President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration rolls out its controversial policy, aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflict. The idea is that allowing hunting will reduce risk to humans, essentially by reducing the population of elephants. But Cyril Taolo, the deputy director of the department of national parks and wildlife, explained that population control wouldn’t work. He said as elephants move into areas where people are not accustomed to dealing with them, they pose great danger. Because the hunting ban has been suspended, Botswana, which depends heavily on wildlife-based tourism, is faced with the threat of a tourism boycott. Edwin Tambara, a manager at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), backs a broad, sustainable approach to ensure communities can live in a shared habitat with wildlife. Renown conservationist Mike Chase, director of Elephants Without Borders (EWB), is sympathetic to the danger elephants pose, but blamed other factors including how Botswana secures animal enclosures.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Africa’s Deadliest Killer Ravages Burundi

Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN’s humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019 – a figure roughly equal to half its entire population. Of those cases, a total of 1,801 died from the mosquito-born disease in Burundi between 1 January and 21 July, OCHA said. The tiny country of 11 million people in the African Great Lakes region has still not declared a national emergency, despite OCHA saying the outbreak crossed “epidemic proportions” in May. A lack of preventative measures like mosquito nets, climatic changes and increased movements of people from mountain areas with low immunity to malaria were driving the crisis, OCHA said. SOURCE: EYE WITNESS NEWS

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Ethiopian and Somali Migrants Go from the Fire to the Frying Pan

Many migrants from East Africa choose a route that is less known, cheaper and even more dangerous than the Mediterranean: They cross the Gulf of Aden and land in war-torn Yemen. But Yemen is unstable itself, torn asunder by many years of war. At the end of 2014, Huthi rebels conquered the capital Sanaa and overthrew the government. In March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia attacked the Shiite rebels. The fighting has developed into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which supports the Huthis. Many migrants are unaware of this.  The number of migrants arriving in Yemen from East Africa every year ranges from 50,000 to 150,000. The weather is also a factor. During the summer months, the wind can be very strong and this affects the number of people setting out from Djibouti. This migration route is less known compared to the one to Europe through Sudan and Libya. It’s cheaper but very dangerous. Yemen is littered with landmines.

SOURCE: DEUTSCHE WELLE

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Ghana’s Tranquil Escape from the Clogged Capital

Aburi is an escape from Ghana’s traffic- and waste-clogged capital. Forty-five minutes away (or less, depending on how enthusiastic you are to get there), the town is a carpet of green — mountains, hills, banana and palm trees — bursting in every direction. Located in the Akuapim South municipal district of Ghana’s eastern region, it is part of the Akwapim-Togo mountain range, with hills averaging 1,500 feet. Hills hushed in silence, interrupted by the occasional songful chirp of birds. The Botanical Gardens (20 GHC, or $5), opened in 1890 and occupying about 64.8 hectares of land, is home to 350 plant species and is literally the seedbed of the production of cocoa and rubber in southern Ghana. It’s the perfect place to set up a picnic, lie in the grass, listen to the whistle of trees and enjoy the cool air. There are also birds and butterflies to spot. Centuries-old trees to marvel at. A picturesque procession of palm trees at the entrance.

SOURCE: OZY

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Uganda Starts its Largest Ebola Vaccine Trial to Date

Health authorities say the rollout is an apparent effort to prevent the disease from spreading. An epidemic across the border in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has killed over 1,800 people, making this outbreak the second-deadliest to date, with fatality rates nearing 70%. The experimental Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered to health care professionals, as well as ambulance drivers, burial teams and cleaners. The trial is expected to last two years and cover 800 people in the Mbarara district in southwest Uganda. There are no licensed treatments for Ebola, but one vaccine, manufactured by Merck, was used effectively at the end of the 2013-2016 outbreak in the DRC and has been used during the current epidemic. Over 180,000 people have received this vaccine.

SOURCE: VOA

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[OPINION] Boom Or Bust -Education Will Determine Africa’s Transformation

August 12, marks International Youth Day, and the theme for this year is ‘making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive’, is particularly apt for Africa. Consider this. Every 24 hours around 35,000 African youth are looking for work. By 2050, Africa will be home to about 830 million young people, meaning that at current trends, the challenge will only become tougher. In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta pushed for education reforms to prepare the youth for a new era. The National Policy on Curriculum Reforms, whose vision is “nurturing every learner’s potential” is anchored on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which includes education aspirations to catalyze an education and skills revolution with a greater role assigned to the Private Sector. To prepare Kenya’s young people to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world and to build on existing national leadership on young people, the country has joined Generation Unlimited as one of its key partners. President Uhuru Kenyatta, a global champion of Generation Unlimited, has established a high-level steering committee co-chaired by the Government and the UN to guide the implementation of Generation Unlimited in the country, as well concrete steps to attract public and private partnerships in support of its goals.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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REPORT: The “Grand-scale Corruption” which the Sassou-Nguesso Family Continues to Engage

A new investigation by anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has discovered the apparent theft of more than $50 million in public funds from the Republic of Congo by Denis Christel “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso, son of the country’s president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The resulting report alleges the younger Sassou-Nguesso, 44, laundered the money through a “complex and opaque corporate structure” spanning six European countries, the British Virgin Islands, and the US state of Delaware. It’s far from the first time the nation’s first family has been accused of embezzling funds from their country’s treasury. In 2007, Global Witness fingered Kiki, a Congolese parliamentarian, as having spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that may derive from sales of state oil on lavish designer shopping sprees in Paris, Marbella and Dubai.” His sister, Claudia Sassou-Nguesso—also an elected member of Congo’s parliament—allegedly pilfered nearly $20 million in state monies to buy a condo in New York City’s Trump International Hotel & Tower, according to a Global Witness report released in April. (The Congolese government called the charges “fake news.”)SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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What’s Eating South African Youth?

Every week a group of South African teenagers crowd into a studio to play hip-hop and discuss neighbourhood gun crime for their community radio show, Bigger Than Life, on Alex FM. They are determined to help stem the violence that blights their densely populated township of Alexandra in Johannesburg. The Alexandra township’s community radio station was established in 1994, the year white-minority apartheid rule ended. Alexandra is just three miles from Johannesburg’s affluent business district but poverty and danger are ever-present. The settlement covers 7 sq km, with many of the bare-brick houses and corrugated iron steel shacks lacking running water and electricity.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Ready to Swim for Cape Verde

Cape Verde has never won an Olympic medal, and despite the country sending only four swimmers to the 2020 Olympics, siblings Latroya, Troy and Jayla Pina have all been chosen to compete as members of the Cape Verde National Swim Team in the 2020 Summer Olympics. They will also swim in the Confederation Africaine de Natation Championship Meet in early September.. They have never been to the archipelago nation off the north-west of Africa, but their mother was born there. The Pinas hope to follow in the footsteps of Simone Manuel, who in 2016, became the first black female swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal.

SOURCE: BBC

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Lupita Nyong’o on Narrating a Wildlife Documentary

Another wildlife documentary?  Yes, but ‘Serengeti’ is different.  Learn why Lupita Nyong’o found it so compelling and eagerly signed on as its narrator. Ms. Nyong’o understood that these shows can be mundane and repetitive, telling the same stories of how animals live in the wild. John Downer’s “Serengeti” stood out because of its attention to specific animals and their day-to-day lives, which includes fighting within their clans, searching for love and trying to survive when outsiders are ready to attack. The documentary, which was filmed on a game reserve in Tanzania over two years, feels more like a dramatized TV show than a documentary, but drama is part of its appeal. It follows several animals in the park, including Kali, a lioness who has been exiled from her pride and is struggling to raise her cubs alone; Bakari, a baboon who is trying to figure out how to win back a female baboon’s affection after another male gets her attention; and Zalika, a hyena who becomes queen of her clan sooner than she expected. The British actor John Boyega narrates the British version of the show, which premiered on BBC One earlier this month. Over the course of six episodes, viewers get to know the animals “more from their own perspective”.     The New York Times    

SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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These Are the 10 Most Streamed South African Women Artists on Apple Music

It’s Women’s Month on Apple Music, and they’re getting things started by profiling the 10 most streamed female artists from South Africa. On top of the list is R&B;/pop musician Shekhinah. Shekhinah has been one of the most loved South African artists across all genres and genders in the past few years since releasing the single “Back to the Beach,” a collaborative effort with Kyle Deutsch. She released her debut album Rose Gold in 2017, and it was certified platinum in 2018. Shekhinah is followed by Lady Zamar, an artist whose rise has been impressive to watch. Her debut album King Zamar (2017) was a collection of strong vocal house tunes that resonated with most of the country and did great numbers. Her sophomore album Monarch consists of a cocktail of production styles, and is poised to travel as far as her debut did, if not further. Karen Zoid, Lebo Sekgobela, Simmy, Karlien van Jaarsveld, Zonke Dikana, Amanda Black, Juanita du Plessis and Ntokozo Mbambo complete the list.

SOURCES: OKAY AFRICA

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The Tale of Activists Involved in Leading the Way from Ethiopia to Sudan

Netflix has started streaming a movie based on the true story of the rescue of Ethiopian Jews escaping civil war. The Red Sea Diving Resort is about a fake resort in Sudan that was set up by an Israeli Mossad agent and used as a front for smuggling hundreds of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. It is written and directed by Gideon Raff and stars renowned actor Chris Evans, from Marvel’s Captain America. The story is based on covert Israeli military operations to rescue Ethiopian Jews in the early 1980s as they escaped famine and the brutal Marxist regime of Mengistu Hailemariam. Evans plays the Israeli agent who ran an operation with a ragtag team of spies, using a deserted holiday retreat as a front. The most famous real-life missions were Operation Solomon and Operation Moses, which airlifted thousands of Ethiopians to Israel via Sudan. There are currently more than 150,000 Ethiopian Jews now living in Israel. About 7,000 of them still remain stranded and in uncertainty in Ethiopia, waiting to reunite with their families in the Jewish state.

SOURCES: SCREEN RANT

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Designer Siyanda Mbele on Fusing Functionality, Aesthetics and Culture

South African designer, Siyanda Mbele, whose Mvelo desk was nominated for one of “The Most Beautiful Objects in South Africa,” shares his approach to design and the importance of inspiring other Africans to create for Africans. The name of his company, Pinda Furniture, is derived from a Zulu word for again. He says it represents a time in his life that he refused to give up. Instead, he chose to follow through with his ambitions as a designer by incorporating the elements that he found lacking in mainstream design. With Pinda Furniture, he recognises the need for African culture to be represented by African designers. 

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

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Inside the Wekafore Universe

Nigeria-born, Barcelona-based Wekafore Maniu Jibril calls his fashion “Afro-primitive-futuristic functional-disco activewear” and credits far-ranging influences from his youth in Nigeria.  He says, and it’s inspired by everything from The Nuba tribe of South Sudan, to motherhood and divine femininity, to Fela Kuti. Like many young designers plotting the future of their brands, Wekaforé wants to think about the ways in which he can make meaningful change. “I think the right question now is how much good do I want to bring into my world? How much do I wish to sacrifice for the greater good?” he says. “The Wekaforé brand is at the forefront of igniting the new African consciousness.

SOURCES: i-D

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[OPINION] Tourists Shouldn’t be Put off by the Latest Ebola Outbreak

Prospective holiday and business travellers to East Africa are no doubt closely following developments of the Ebola virus outbreak in the region. Currently, more people are dying from measles in the DRC than Ebola, and the chances of a holidaymaker or business visitor coming into contact with the virus there is negligible. The greatest risks on a trip to sub-Saharan Africa are from traffic accidents and malaria, and there is a lot you can do to lessen the dangers of both, such as avoiding travel at night and choosing a driver and vehicle you instinctively feel safe with in the former, and taking malaria tablets, sleeping under a mosquito net and using a decent insect repellent in the latter.  

SOURCES: INDEPENDENT

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If You’re into Music, these African Festivals are For You

The continent of Africa is bursting with festivals and musical celebrations preserving their heritage and culture with respect to legends like Fela Kuti. Local and international artists draw in crowds from all over the world to enjoy the fusion of Afrobeats and African sounds with hip-hop, pop, rock, and other genres of music. You can expect epic adventures, outdoor camping, and a combination of sights, sounds, and cultures at almost any music festival in Africa. Attendees say Malawi’s Lake of Stars is more than a music festival. The annual celebration of artistic expression showcases some of the hottest South African acts.

SOURCES: TRAVEL NOIRE

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What Makes Kenya’s Beaches Among the Best?

Astride the equator on roughly the same latitude as the Seychelles and Maldives, Bali and northern Brazil, Kenya enjoys the same geographical conditions as some of the world’s top sun, sea and sand destinations. There’s enough breeze for sailing and wind-powered adventure sports. The same goes for the restaurant scene, where a wide selection of places serve modern takes on traditional Kenya cuisine, as well as international dishes. Most of Kenya’s best beaches are located just north and south of Mombasa in the southeast. The northeast shore is virtually deserted except for exotic Lamu Island and a few hideaways around Mambrui.. The Indian Ocean is soothingly warm, colored varying shades of green and blue. Coral reefs, many of them protected inside marine national parks, shelter much of the coast, providing habitats for a plethora of sea-life. There’s enough breeze for sailing and wind-powered adventure sports, but not so much that it’s going to blow you away. Once upon a time, there wasn’t much in the way of beachside hotels beyond Mombasa and Malindi. Nowadays, however, there’s accommodation at every level, from backpacker hostels to chic boutique properties.The same goes for the restaurant scene, where a wide selection of places serve modern takes on traditional Kenya cuisine, as well as international dishes. Most of Kenya’s best beaches are located just north and south of Mombasa in the southeast. The northeast shore is virtually deserted except for exotic Lamu Island and a few hideaways around Mambrui.


SOURCES: CNN

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Your Travel List Inspired by Rihanna’s Anthems

A freaky, offbeat celebration of all things supernatural, Disturbia is Rihanna at her most spine-tingling. If the song’s dark themes and twisted lyrics get your imagination running riot, head to the chilling ghost towns and eerie tree-trunk silhouettes of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

SOURCES: LONELY PLANET

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Mokkatam Hill

Polish sculptor Marius Dybich, also known as Mario puts final touches on his latest creations. In his 23 years in Egypt, Mario will have made about 70 works. A feat for this 51-year-old man, who had no experience in sculpturing at the time. Married to an Egyptian woman, the artist still does not have Egyptian nationality. Yet, he cannot imagine living anywhere else than in Cairo, the adopted country where he has forged close friendships and shared unique experiences. On the walls of the vast cave, which can accommodate up to 20,000 people for mass religious gatherings, the artist’s works preach the gospel. Mario said “our message is to make people understand that we do not carve statues to worship. We tell the story through biblical art. It’s like an artistic language, like the pharaohs when they told stories through their drawings.”

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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[EXCLUSIVE] Africa.com Talks to the Women of GE Africa

Meet Welela Dawit, who is the CFO of GE Africa as well as the CFO of the gas power systems and power services business for sub-Saharan Africa. By having a dual role she has multiple capacities and understand areas of responsibility. First and foremost it’s ensuring the controller-ship of compliance in terms of how we work and record our financial performance, I am supportive of driving commercial growth initiatives particularly in our gas powered business and it’s also all about leadership development of our finance pipeline and ensuring we’ve got future finance talent growing within the system and being able to take on bigger and better roles down the road. Adesua Dozie is the general counsel for GE Africa and general counsel for the gas power systems and services business for sub-Saharan Africa.  She manages legal reputation and commercial risk across the continent ensuring that we’re able to do our business sustainably, managing the company’s reputation and ensuring that the growth and our future pipeline is protected and sustained. And co-chairs the GE Women’s Network for sub-Saharan Africa it’s an affinity group that promotes recruitment, retention and support of women across the continent.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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EXCLUSIVE: Deep Dive Into The Historic Silicosis Class Action Case Settlement

iAfrica’s exclusive interview with the attorney that led this historic case that awarded over $350 million to gold mine workers. The silicosis and tuberculosis class action is unprecedented in its scope and ambition. The aim is to compensate former and current mineworkers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, eSwatini, Mozambique, Lesotho and Malawi who contracted silicosis or tuberculosis on a gold mine owned or operated by Anglo America South Africa, Goldfields, Harmony, African Rainbow Minerals, AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye Stillwater from 1965 to date. If the parties had continued with litigation as opposed to settling, it could easily take another ten years to finalise the litigation. The LRC has lost five of its thirteen class representatives – these people passed away.   Two of them passed in past 6 months. The settlement shows an acknowledgement from both sides that achieving an outcome beneficial to the mine workers was urgently required. The settlement is important first and foremost for the mineworkers suffering from an incurable and progressive disease or their dependants that cared for them during their illness.

SOURCES: iAFRICA

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Highlights from Africa’s Top Employers 2019 Certification Programme

Two hundred and nine organisations in Africa officially registered to participate in this year’s Certification Programme. One hundred and ninety-five organisations spanning 31 African countries and 23 industry sectors achieved the Top Employers 2019 Certification. Ninety-nine certified organisations will carry the South African Certification, while 96 certified Top Employers from other African countries outside of South Africa have also been certified. Eighty-four percent of the certified population in Africa are multinational corporations, while the remaining 16% are national companies. The countries with the most certified organisations are: South Africa (99), Kenya (8), Nigeria (8), Egypt (7), Ghana (7), Morocco (6), Mozambique (5), Tanzania (5), Zambia (5), Zimbabwe (5), and Tunisia (5). Certification has also been achieved for the very first time by an organisation in Burkina Faso. The top five industry sectors in Africa with the greatest representation are: FMCG (55), Transport & Logistics (37), Telecommunications (26), Manufacturing (22) and Pharmaceuticals (14). Fourteen organisations made up of 101 certified operations have earned the right to carry their country-specific and the continental certifications. The coveted Top Employers Africa Certification is earned when an organisation is certified in a minimum of four or more African countries in the same year. These international organisations have proven they are able to offer a consistently harmonised development experience for their employees, no matter where they are located on the continent. According to our research, Africa’s top five HR Priorities are: Talent Strategy, Employee Engagement, Leadership Development, Learning & Development, (Support) Cultural and Organisational Change.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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What Africa Could Learn from Maritime Powerhouse Canada

Given that 38 of 54 countries are coastal, there’s potential for Africa to harness its vast coastline. The takeaway from Canada is that innovation can only be born from a foundation of skills and knowledge. Creating a network between the private sector, government and academia is vital. By looking at the methods they used to create a more efficient ocean economy sector, and investigate how it can be applied to Africa’s maritime context. One such is the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, a center of marine learning and applied research. Glenn Blackwood, Vice-President of the institute, who has been involved in training in Namibia and Tanzania, said it’s necessary to start at entry-level jobs. “You can’t be captain the first day on the ships,” he explained, “but you train them to a very high level.”

SOURCE: FORBES AFRICA

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Zimbabwe has Become a Country of Queues

In recent weeks, drivers have typically lined up for about three hours to refuel their cars with gasoline that has been diluted with ethanol, which makes it burn faster. Workers wait for hours in long lines outside of banks to receive their pay in cash, because of a shortage of Zimbabwean dollars. The price of bread has increased sevenfold in the past year, and some medicines are now 10 times more expensive, even as most wages remain stagnant. Added to that is Zimbabwe’s acute water shortage as a result of a particularly bad drought this year, a symptom of climate change. Poor water management has wasted much of the water that remains. Two of Harare’s four reservoirs are empty from lack of rain, but between 45 and 60 percent of the water that’s left is lost through leakage and theft, said Herbert Gomba, the mayor of Harare.

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Jumia Uses the Power of Collaboration to Deliver

The promise of e-commerce across Africa has, so far, been partly held up by the logistical challenges of delivery. Jumia, the largest operator in Africa, is taking another crack at the problem through a partnership with Vivo Energy, owner of Engen and Shell-branded petrol stations across Africa. The agreement will see Jumia set up pick-up stations at Vivo’s over 2,000 fuel station outlets, allowing customers pick up orders as well as make payment. The partnership will be piloted in Kenya, Morocco, Senegal and Ivory Coast before being eventually rolled out to countries where both companies operate, says Jumia. Vivo operates in 23 African markets while Jumia operates in 14. The move is Jumia’s latest bid to get around the last-mile delivery problem with logistics currently hobbled by inconsistent address systems, underdeveloped road networks and relatively limited mapping in several of Jumia’s African markets.

SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Kenyan Businesses Stage a Comeback after Terror Attack

Normalcy has returned to the 14 Riverside Drive complex, the scene of a bloody attack at the beginning of the year as high-end hotel DusitD2 reopened its doors to customers after seven months. The attack at the office and hotel complex, orchestrated by at least five al-Shabab-linked assailants, killed 21 people and wounded many others on January 15, echoing a 2013 assault on an up-market shopping centre in the capital. In a show of resilience, the DusitD2 complex reopened on Wednesday with staff at most of the local and foreign firms housed there shrugging off concerns to go back to work amid tightened security. Regional tech firm Cellulant, which was hardest hit by the attack by losing six of its staff, is in the process of getting a new office elsewhere in the city. Mwenda Mbijiwe, a Nairobi-based security analyst, said the reopening of DusitD2 Hotel was a show of resilience from the city and “the ability of the nation to rise from defeat”.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Senegal Appears in the Bad Books

The West African nation home to 15 million is one of the world’s biggest contributors to ocean plastic. Although the country banned polythene bags in 2015, the law is yet to be implemented. Grocers wrap individual items, even blobs of cheese, butter and coffee in copious plastic. “The law is not enforced. When you reach major cities, you are greeted by an unpleasant decor, a … visual pollution made of plastic waste as far as the eye can see,” Environment Minister Abdou Karim Sall. Sall said the government would introduce a new bill in the coming months to ban a wider range of plastic, including thicker shopping bags, following similar moves in Kenya and Rwanda. Senegal is 21 out of all nations for quantity of waste being dumped in the sea – with 254,770 tonnes, only just behind the United States, a vastly bigger economy with many times more people and coastline according to a study in 2010, reported by the journal Science.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Mauritius Responds To ‘Factually Incorrect’ Reports

The Government of Mauritius has taken cognizance of the information averred by the ICIJ in the articles, which were illegally obtained and tampered with, and of the allegations which are of a serious and malicious nature, and factually incorrect. It is noteworthy that a criminal investigation is currently being conducted after the police has received complaints that the IT systems of a corporate service provider has been illegally intruded and breached. The ICIJ has, all throughout its articles, clearly stated that “offshore companies and trusts have legitimate uses,” and that “we do not intend to suggest or imply that the people or companies or other entities…have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly”. It would seem that the ICIJ itself is confused as to the purpose and objective of its articles. And it appears, therefore, that its agenda is to use its unsubstantiated “findings” and incorrect arguments just to harm the repute of Mauritius.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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African Investment Scheme

Cattle have long been considered a measure of wealth across Africa – but it is not just farmers cashing in. A pioneering app in South Africa lets investors, eager to benefit from rising global beef demand, buy shares in a cow from their mobile phone for as little as $41. Self-styled “crowd-farming” company Livestock Wealth connects investors with small-scale farmers via its “MyFarmbook” app, where they can buy their own cow and receive interest rates of between 5% and 14% depending on where they put their money. Launched in 2015 with 26 cows, the project now includes more than 2,000 cows and has taken in 50 million rand, with 10 percent of investors coming from outside South Africa. Groups of investors can buy a whole cow, while individuals can purchase shares in a pregnant cow or young calf. Livestock contributes around 51% to the agricultural economy in South Africa, with global sheep and beef prices rising after droughts in major producing areas.

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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EXCLUSIVE: Deep Dive Into The Historic Silicosis Class Action Case Settlement

iAfrica’s exclusive interview with the attorney that led this historic case that awarded over $350 million to gold mine workers. The silicosis and tuberculosis class action is unprecedented in its scope and ambition. The aim is to compensate former and current mineworkers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, eSwatini, Mozambique, Lesotho and Malawi who contracted silicosis or tuberculosis on a gold mine owned or operated by Anglo America South Africa, Goldfields, Harmony, African Rainbow Minerals, AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye Stillwater from 1965 to date. If the parties had continued with litigation as opposed to settling, it could easily take another ten years to finalise the litigation. The LRC has lost five of its thirteen class representatives – these people passed away.   Two of them passed in past 6 months. The settlement shows an acknowledgement from both sides that achieving an outcome beneficial to the mine workers was urgently required. The settlement is important first and foremost for the mineworkers suffering from an incurable and progressive disease or their dependants that cared for them during their illness.SOURCE: iAFRICA

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Zimbabwe has Become a Country of Queues

In recent weeks, drivers have typically lined up for about three hours to refuel their cars with gasoline that has been diluted with ethanol, which makes it burn faster. Workers wait for hours in long lines outside of banks to receive their pay in cash, because of a shortage of Zimbabwean dollars. The price of bread has increased sevenfold in the past year, and some medicines are now 10 times more expensive, even as most wages remain stagnant. Added to that is Zimbabwe’s acute water shortage as a result of a particularly bad drought this year, a symptom of climate change. Poor water management has wasted much of the water that remains. Two of Harare’s four reservoirs are empty from lack of rain, but between 45 and 60 percent of the water that’s left is lost through leakage and theft, said Herbert Gomba, the mayor of Harare.

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Nigeria’s Fledgling Mobile Money Market Gets a Major Shake-up

MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has been granted a “super agent” license which allows it set up an agent network through which it can provide financial services. It’s the first step in MTN’s plans to finally roll out mobile money services in Africa’s largest economy as the company says it has also applied for a payment service bank license, which will allow it “offer a broader and deeper range of financial services.” The license comes after reforms by Nigeria’s central bank last October permitting telecoms operators to get mobile money and banking licenses in a bid to boost financial inclusion and facilitate the long-held ambition for a cashless society. As already seen in several African countries, the real-life application of mobile money among unbanked populations ranges from quick, seamless fund transfers to facilitating payments and boosting small businesses. In Ghana, the service has been adopted for investing as well with MTN’s selling shares for its landmark IPO mainly through mobile money. The West African country has recently become the fastest-growing mobile money market in Africa, with registered accounts increasing six-fold between 2012 and 2017.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Is Somalia Cutting Ties with the US?

The office of Somalia’s president says he is giving up his United States citizenship but it is not immediately clear why. A statement posted on Twitter on Thursday says President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed made the decision voluntarily, with lawyers involved. It says Somalia’s constitution allows for dual citizenship. Many in Somalia’s diaspora have it after fleeing the country long gripped by conflict. Mohamed lived for many years in the United States, working as a New York state transportation department official in Buffalo before being elected Somalia’s president in February 2017. During his time in office the U.S. has dramatically increased airstrikes against the Somali-based al-Shabab extremist group, re-established its diplomatic presence in Somalia and even presented Mohamed with a trucker cap that said “Make Somalia Great Again.”

SOURCE: VOA

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The Tale of Activists Involved in Leading the Way from Ethiopia to Sudan

Netflix has started streaming a movie based on the true story of the rescue of Ethiopian Jews escaping civil war. The Red Sea Diving Resort is about a fake resort in Sudan that was set up by an Israeli Mossad agent and used as a front for smuggling hundreds of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. It is written and directed by Gideon Raff and stars renowned actor Chris Evans, from Marvel’s Captain America. The story is based on covert Israeli military operations to rescue Ethiopian Jews in the early 1980s as they escaped famine and the brutal Marxist regime of Mengistu Hailemariam. Evans plays the Israeli agent who ran an operation with a ragtag team of spies, using a deserted holiday retreat as a front. The most famous real-life missions were Operation Solomon and Operation Moses, which airlifted thousands of Ethiopians to Israel via Sudan. There are currently more than 150,000 Ethiopian Jews now living in Israel. About 7,000 of them still remain stranded and in uncertainty in Ethiopia, waiting to reunite with their families in the Jewish state.

SOURCE: SCREEN RANT

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Who Moved Computers Destined for Kenya?

A container that should have been full of computers donated by China to Kenya’s parliament has arrived empty. Officials are mystified by the disappearance as the seals on the container had not been broken. The Chinese embassy in Kenya is equally puzzled, saying it was told the equipment was loaded and been shipped for delivery in July following a high-level parliamentary exchange earlier in the year. This was the first time any donations made to Kenya over the years had not arrived “safe and sound”, it added. Mr Kinoti, the police’s Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), said an investigation had been launched.

SOURCE: CITIZEN

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The Battle for African Eyeballs between Media Powerhouses

As part of its plan to strengthen its position in Africa’s movie market, French media giant, Canal+ Group, has acquired Nigerian production studio, ROK film studios from VOD company IROKO TV. Canal+ Group has been quietly making moves in Nollywood, one of the world’s largest film industries, and is now looking to create more African original content. According to a statement released by ROK on Monday, the studio, launched in 2013 by actor and producer, Mary Njoku, is Nigeria’s largest production house with more than 500 movies and 25 TV shows. The organization currently produce Ghanaian and Nigerian movies, reaching 15 million subscribers across DSTV and GOTV platforms, the statement said. Njoku says that Canal+ is working with ROK because the studio has the ability to create Nollywood content at scale. The French media company has turned its sights on African viewers as growth has declined in its home terrain due to competition from Amazon, Apple and Netflix.SOURCE: CNN

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Who Should be Funding Development in Africa?

Tanzania can avoid taking on more debt from the Western countries and firms by financing its own infrastructure, according to the central bank. “The tradition of looking to the West for loans to invest in infrastructure is a bit of weakness on the part of African countries,” said Governor Florens Luoga. This reinforces President John Magufuli’s plan to use the state’s resources to fund the development of a $2.9 billion hydroelectric plant. The government plans to spend $5.17 billion for infrastructure in 2019-20. The government is building a new railway linking its commercial Dar es Salaam hub to western neighbors Rwanda, Burundi and the natural resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo. Other planned projects include a $700 million Rumakali hydropower plant and a $690 million Dar es Salaam port expansion.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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Walk a Mile in an African Slave’s Shoes

This month marks 400 years since the first recorded African slaves arrived in North America to work plantations in English colonies. In the centuries after, European slave traders shipped millions of African men, women and children across the Atlantic Ocean. Many died in horrific conditions on the slave boats, while survivors endured a life of misery and backbreaking farm work. For some of them, the terrible journey began here, deep inside Ghana. Kwaku Agyei is a pastor and elder in Obuasi. He tells the story of the slave trade to young workers in his neighbourhood, the indignity of it mixed with pride in his ancestors. Today, the Assin Manso site is a sacred place of remembrance. In this area of mangrove swamps, an image of slaves chained by the feet promises, “Never again.”

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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The Taureg Band You Need to Hear

Fatou Seidi Ghali once had to practise on her brother’s guitar in secret. She and her band, Les Filles de Illighadad, are now taking the world by storm. The group are from a small village called Illighadad in the Tuareg region of the Sahara in western Niger. While the region has produced some celebrated guitarists, acts such as Bombino, Mdou Moctar and Tinariwen’s Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Fatou is the first ever Tuareg woman to play guitar professionally. She started the band in 2016 with her cousin Alamnou Akrouni, who plays percussion and sings. A third member, Mariama Salah Aswan, recently left to start a family and was replaced by Fatimata Ahmadelher, the Tuareg’s second-ever female guitarist, who also contributes vocals and percussion. Tende music, named after the drum, is played at traditional Tuareg courting rituals, where all the women in a village sing to each other in a call-and-response style. 

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Maafe: African Peanut Stew

Original article published at TasteAtlas.

This traditional stew, occasionally also referred as a sauce or soup, is enjoyed throughout the West and Central Africa, but it is believed it originated among the Bambara people in Mali. It comes in numerous regional variations, but each version is created with roasted peanuts that are ground into flour and make the basic sauce of the dish.

The list of additional ingredients is extensive, and it typically includes tomato paste, fish or meat, usually beef, lamb, goat, or chicken, various vegetables, and numerous spices such as ginger, turmeric, coriander, or cinnamon. The variations often differ in texture and consistency, while the side dishes are regionally influenced and may include anything from rice to couscous, fufu, or sweet potatoes.

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The First Minister to Fall Under Zimbabwe’s New Corruption Watch

Zimbabwe’s minister of tourism has been held for questioning by a newly-constituted anti-corruption commission. According to state-owned daily The Herald, Prisca Mupfumira was detained on Thursday over the alleged disappearance of millions of dollars at the country’s pension fund when she was social welfare minister. She is the first senior government official to be held by the commission which was overhauled by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on July 15. Mupfumira, a senior member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, previously oversaw the $1bn state pension fund. She was fired by former President Robert Mugabe weeks before a military-led coup that toppled him in November 2017.  She was reappointed after Mugabe’s removal and given a new portfolio. 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Tunisia’s First Freely Elected President has Died

Beji Caid Essebsi, was the world’s oldest sitting president aged 92. He was admitted to hospital on Wednesday but officials did not say why he was receiving treatment. Mr Essebsi won Tunisia’s first free elections in 2014 following Arab uprisings across the region. He was admitted to hospital last month after suffering what officials said was a severe health crisis. They gave no further details at the time. But Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who visited him in hospital, urged people to stop spreading “fake news” about his condition. According to the country’s constitution, Mr Chahed can take over as president for no more than 60 days or until a replacement is elected. Mr Essebsi was a former lawyer who studied and trained in the French capital Paris. During his long political career he also served as interior minister and Speaker of parliament.SOURCE: BBC

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China’s Revolution in Africa Will be Televised

In 2015, Xi announced the 10,000 Villages Project, a lofty plan to take digital television to impoverished parts of Africa, such as the village where Nganga lives. Previously, television access in many parts of the continent was a privilege of the elite, and those who were connected relied on old-fashioned, snowy analog reception. Xi’s dream was to upgrade huge swathes of Africa to modern, digital satellite TV networks, that could broadcast a constellation of channels over long distances — so long, in fact, that a TV channel from Beijing could be beamed to African homes. StarTimes has been the Chinese government’s primary contractor, paving the way for the Beijing-based firm. Today, the company beams Chinese TV shows into the homes of 10 million subscribers in 30 African countries, and controls television networks to such an extent in Zambia and Kenya there have been fears the company could black out TVs in those countries, if it wanted to. While channels like the BBC reach more people and South African distributor MultiChoice has more subscribers, StarTimes’ breadth of reach has some critics worrying.

SOURCE: CNN

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There’s Need For More Disruption In Africa’s Tech Scene

There are a number of laudable achievements the continent has earned for itself. These achievements, although rarely spoken of, have positioned the continent on a global map, earned it positive recognition from First World countries, changed its narrative to something better and more appealing, and made it a sought-after destination for business investment, leisure and entertainment. This article will dwell on the business investment opportunities that have changed the fortunes of the continent, and how these businesses are impacting and transforming the quality of lives in Africa. E-commerce is one of the business sectors powering the engines of commerce and trade in the continent. It has brought many untold opportunities for both the consumers and the micro, small, medium enterprises. In Nigeria for instance, Jumia paved the way for e-commerce in 2012, provided consumers access to hundreds of thousands of products, and expanded access for discerning entrepreneurs who quickly took advantage of the many unique opportunities presented by these platforms, to reach more consumers and sell more products. The convenience of e-commerce made a compelling case for early adoption of online shopping by customers who until then only shopped from brick and mortar stores.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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How Universities are Addressing Ethiopia’s Ethnic Tensions

Wolkite University has struggled with ethnic disputes between students since it was first established six years ago. The institution attracts young people from all over the country, who pay an average fee of 12,000 Ethiopian birr (£330) a year for tuition, food and board. With more than 80 ethnic groups and languages spoken in Ethiopia, the population of almost 15,000 students can struggle to find common ground. Understanding between groups is a rarity in a country where violent conflict is common. Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has promised greater stability, but tensions remain high in various regions and the education system is no more immune to deep-rooted tribal differences than anywhere else. To tackle these issues, Asteway Mellese a lecturer designed a theatre course that promotes indigenous research and performance. The goal is to improve understanding and respect between cultures. One module requires students to carry out two weeks of field research on a particular ethnic group. Progress has undoubtedly been made at Wolkite Univerisity and the indigenous theatre syllabus has since been adopted by three other universities elsewhere in the country: Mekelle, Adigrat and Aksum.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Beginning of a New Era in Juba

South Sudanese technology firms have launched the country’s first mobile money transfer platform, M-Gurush. The new service called M-Gurush — M for mobile and Gurush for money in Arabic — removes the need for a bank account, which most South Sudanese lack. It allows customers to pay for goods and services across South Sudan, similar to platforms in Kenya and other African countries. While a 2018 peace deal allowed for the service to be rolled out across the country, there are still infrastructure challenges. Mobile money is expected to speed up trade and add thousands of new jobs to South Sudan’s struggling economy. It also puts South Sudan in the ranks of other East African nations using mobile money, such as Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.SOURCE: VOA

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Sigh of Relief as DRC Announces the Person to Handle the Ebola Crisis

Jean-Jacques Muyembe is nicknamed the “Ebola Hunter,” he has helped manage more than 10 Ebola outbreaks. Over the weekend, the 77-year-old was named head of a technical committee to combat the virus by Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi, who took over the post in January. “Having that level of very senior involvement is key, particularly given how much of a global crisis we’re in with this outbreak,” says Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior public health scholar and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University. The creation of the committee and his leadership of it was controversial: in response, the health commissioner Oly Ilunga Kalenga resigned.  Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who helped discover Ebola with Muyembe, applauded the change. “There is no sign of this epidemic slowing down. We therefore welcome the DRC president’s bold decision to change strategy,” Piot said in a statement. Muyembe’s strategy will likely come from the playbook he helped develop in the mid-2000s. That model is focused on the use of antibodies as the basis for therapeutic medicines, an idea considered risky and experimental in 2004 but which has proven effective. Working in the Congo creates unique challenges, he has noted, from its huge size — 905,000 square miles, making it the second-biggest country by landmass in Africa — to the lack of community engagement in some areas. Working as director-general of the Congo’s National Institute for Biomedical Research, Muyembe has helped build labs in each province and surveillance systems in each of the country’s 516 health zones.SOURCE: OZY

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Tragedy Strikes at Libyan Coast

Up to 150 people have died in a large shipwreck off the coast of Libya, according to the UN’s refugee agency. A further 150 were rescued by coast guards and local fishermen and are being returned to Libya, UNHCR added.  The ship left from Al Khoms, a town 120 km east of Tripoli. If confirmed, the number of dead would be the highest for a shipwreck in the Mediterranean this year. The Mediterranean sea is a dangerous route for refugees trying to reach Europe. In 2018, over 2,000 people died attempting to make that journey. Libya is a hub for refugees, many of whom try to reach Europe in unseaworthy boats. UNHCR and other UN agencies have repeatedly called for survivors not to be returned to Libya, a conflict zone where rescued migrants and refugees are routinely jailed in inhumane conditions. 

SOURCE: INDEPENDENT

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Why Lupita Nyong’o Lent her Voice to This Wlidlife Doccie

Ms. Nyong’o understood that these shows can be mundane and repetitive, telling the same stories of how animals live in the wild. John Downer’s “Serengeti” stood out because of its attention to specific animals and their day-to-day lives, which includes fighting within their clans, searching for love and trying to survive when outsiders are ready to attack. The documentary, which was filmed on a game reserve in Tanzania over two years, feels more like a dramatized TV show than a documentary, but drama is part of its appeal. It follows several animals in the park, including Kali, a lioness who has been exiled from her pride and is struggling to raise her cubs alone; Bakari, a baboon who is trying to figure out how to win back a female baboon’s affection after another male gets her attention; and Zalika, a hyena who becomes queen of her clan sooner than she expected. The British actor John Boyega narrates the British version of the show, which premiered on BBC One earlier this month. Over the course of six episodes, viewers get to know the animals “more from their own perspective”. 

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Sudan’s Fragile State Gives Way to Botched Coups and Arrests

Sudan’s military has arrested the army chief and several senior officers in connection with a foiled coup attempt. In a statement, the army said it had arrested Gen. Hashem Abdel-Muttalib Babakr, the head of the joint chiefs of staff, and at least a dozen other high-ranking officers linked to a suspected bid to return the party of ousted President Omar al-Bashir to power. The state news service SUNA said members of the “the National Intelligence and Security Service, along with leaders of the Islamic Movement and the National Congress Party,” were also implicated. The date of the alleged coup attempt was not clear. It was the second coup attempt reported this month. Earlier, the military council, which took over the country after ousting Bashir in April, said it had arrested at least 16 active and retired military officers in connection with an attempted coup on July 11.SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST

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Top Lesser Known Safari Parks In Africa

With scenic landscapes, amazing culture, delightful cuisines, and an abundance of wildlife, Africa is a destination that will surely amaze and inspire any visitor. The more popular safari destinations like the Serengeti in Tanzania, Masai Mara in Kenya, and the Kruger Park in South Africa continue to enjoy an influx of visitors from all over the world every year. A true testament to their grandeur and greatness. But what about the lesser known parks across Africa? They are also worth visiting in their own right and can provide a unique experience that makes you appreciate the majesty of the African continent even more. 

Planning an African safari tour? Here are some lesser known safari parks to consider:

Tanzania – Lake Manyara National Park

Located on the edge of the Rift Valley beneath the cliffs of the Manyara escarpment, Lake Manyara National Park is a paradise for bird lovers and provides breathtaking views of rolling grasslands, ground water forests, and baobab strewn cliffs. Its algae-streaked hot springs are a favorite stop among visitors and offer an incredible ecological variety in such a small area. Lake Manyara hosts an incredible array of birdlife that thrives on its brackish waters. Against the grey minerals of the Lakeshore, you can spot pink flamingos as the stoop and graze by the thousands, yellow-billed storks swoop, and herons flap their wings against the sun-drenched sky. Aside from being famous for its tree-climbing lions (the only kind of their species in the world), Lake Manyara National Park is also home to the largest concentration of baboons in Africa. 

Uganda – Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

A swath of steep mountains covered in a thick, steamy jungle, there’s hardly a more reminiscent African destination than the impenetrable forest of Bwindi. Gazetted a national park in 1991, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s ancient and biologically diverse rainforests, which contains almost 400 plant species. The stars of the show, however, are the approximately 400 mountain gorillas (roughly half the world’s population), including several habituated groups that can be tracked. The combination of its broad altitude span and its antiquity has produced an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, resulting in some 120 mammal species and over 350 bird species that call Bwindi home.

Kenya – Lake Nakuru National Park

Flanked by rocky escarpments, waterfalls, and pockets of acacia forests, Lake Nakuru National Park is among Kenya’s finest national parks. It is gorgeous all year round and is home to lions, hippos, and the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. It is one of Kenya’s premium parks, and a paradise for bird lovers. Originally protected as a bird sanctuary, Lake Nakuru National Park hosts over 400 bird species, including five globally threatened species. Tourists can go game driving, enjoy the view of the lake, take great photos, and even have picnics on picnic tables present at the site. Tourists can also take a short hike to visit the nearby Makalia falls.

Zambia – Lower Zambezi National Park

Dotted with acacias and flanked by a steep escarpment on the northern side, the Lower Zambezi National Park covers a large stretch of wilderness area along the northeastern base of the Zambezi river. On the opposite bank in Zimbabwe, is the Mana Pools National Park, together the park constitutes one of Africa’s finest wildlife areas. It is home to a variety of mammal species including elephants, puku, impala, leopards, lions and wild dogs. The Lower Zambezi National Park also boasts over 400 bird species. Like many other African safari parks, the best time to visit the Lower Zambezi National Park is from May through October.

Namibia – Etosha National Park

Etosha National Park is located in the Kunene region and shares boundaries with the regions of Oshikoto, Oshana, and Otjozondjupa. It is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds, and reptiles, including several threatened and endangered species such as the black rhino. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, visitors can catch a glimpse when animals flock to the Okaukuejo waterhole at night. You can spot elephants and lions as they emerge into the illuminated area around the pool to drink their fill and wander off in the darkness.

South Africa – Addo Elephant National Park

Located in the beautiful Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park is home to over 600 elephants and is known for its rich biodiversity. Split into several separate areas including the main inland wildlife area and two coastal conservation areas located north of Sundays River, Addo Elephant National Park incorporates a wide range of different habitats. Though elephants are the parks main highlights, it is also home to buffaloes, leopards, lions, and rhinos. Addo also boasts an incredible variety of birdlife with more than 400 species recorded within the park boundaries. Self-drive safaris, guided safaris, horse riding, and marine adventures are some of the popular things to do while at the Addo Elephant National Park.

Discover some of the lesser known safari destinations today. As you can see here, there are plenty of them and in these places, the crowd of tourists will be less and you feel more alone in the wild. 

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Kidnappings and Oil Thefts in Gulf of Guinea Rise

Naval chiefs  are calling for more funding and protection off the West African coastline. It’s considered one of the world’s most notorious areas for piracy and kidnapping and attacks in the area continue to rise each year. To try to resolve the issue, maritime experts are meeting in Ghana for a security conference. A strict definition of maritime piracy only includes attacks on shipping on the high seas – that is, more than 12 nautical miles off the coastline and not under the jurisdiction of any state. Inside a country’s territorial waters and within port facilities, these attacks are defined as armed robberies at sea. However, the data we’ve used from this latest report combines these two sets of data to give an overall picture of incidents at sea both inshore and offshore. In 2018, there were 112 such incidents in West African waters. It’s not just the huge tankers exporting oil and gas from Nigeria and Ghana that are targeted. Commercial ships from smaller countries are also in the sights of the pirates.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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The DRC Called to Urgently Address Ebola Epidemic Especially the Movement of People

“Taxi-motos,” are the lifeblood coursing through Butembo’s arteries. With local unions representing around 10,000 taxi-motos, they are also a political force that has at times hampered efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic rampaging through North Kivu and Ituri provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Many taxi-moto drivers believe the conspiracy theories about Ebola while also being aware that they are dangerously exposed to a virus spread by the kind of close physical contact unavoidable in crowded markets. With few cars in Butembo, most people rely on moto-taxis for transport. And when people fall ill they call moto-taxis to take them to hospital, increasing the risk of transmitting the virus. Taxi drivers transporting the sick have succumbed to Ebola during previous outbreaks, but even if they don’t get sick themselves, they facilitate the movement of people carrying the virus.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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The Scramble for Power in Somalia Points to an Extension of the Cold War

When a small car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the bustling port city of Bosaso in northern Somalia, local news reports chalked it up to Islamist militants retaliating for American airstrikes. At least eight people were wounded, and a local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility. The attack, however, may have also been part of a very different conflict: one among wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies competing for power and profits across the Horn of Africa. Over the last two years, war-torn Somalia has emerged as a central battleground, with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar each providing weapons or military training to favored factions, exchanging allegations about bribing local officials, and competing for contracts to manage ports or exploit natural resources. In an audio recording obtained by The New York Times of a cellphone call with the Qatari ambassador to Somalia, a businessman close to the emir of Qatar said that the militants had carried out the bombing in Bosaso to advance Qatar’s interests by driving out its rival, the United Arab Emirates.SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Africa’s Megacities A Magnet For Investors

Megacities, cities with a population of at least 10 million, are sprouting everywhere in Africa. Cairo in Egypt, Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Lagos in Nigeria are already megacities, while Luanda in Angola, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Johannesburg in South Africa will attain the status by 2030, according the United Nations. Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire and Nairobi in Kenya will surpass the 10 million threshold by 2040. And by 2050 Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Bamako in Mali, Dakar in Senegal and Ibadan and Kano in Nigeria will join the ranks—bringing the total number of megacities in Africa to 14 in about 30 years. The State of African Cities 2018, a UN report, says that Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi are the leading FDI attractions in sub-Saharan Africa. Private investors often accompany financing with technological know-how. For example, smart city projects across South Africa, such as Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, require a diverse range of talent not often found in that country. Foreign investors with expertise in this field can draw on their own experience and contacts to put a skilled team in place.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Travelers in Nigeria can now Hear Travel Advice in a Local Voice on Google Maps

The local accents feature, unveiled at an event in the commercial capital Lagos and also available on Google Assistant, is the first move by the U.S. technology giant to offer such a service in Africa. Rapidly expanding populations, increased mobile phone penetration and crowded cities that are often poorly signposted have led technology firms to identify African countries as potential growth areas. They are now offering transport features from detailed maps to motorcycle ride-hailing services. Google’s motorcycle directions will also be available in Benin Republic, Ghana, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda. The technology behemoth owned by Alphabet Inc said it is aiming to capture new users and expand its appeal beyond just drivers. In the coming months, the maps feature will also allow users in Lagos to seek directions on what it calls “informal transit” – such as yellow danfo minibuses that ply virtually every road in Lagos, but about which it is difficult for outsiders or even Lagosians travelling to a new neighbourhood to find information.

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Africans ask Themselves if Boris Johnson is a Changed Man This Time Round?

Boris Johnson has emerged as the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after a leadership contest and could prove to be as divisive a figure in Britain as President Trump is in the United States. Around the world, Johnson, Britain’s gaffe-prone former foreign secretary,has in the past caused raised eyebrows and outrage with his outspoken comments. But it is in Africa, in particular, that he has shocked many with language considered to be racist and offensive. In a Spectator 2002 column titled, ‘Africa is a mess, but we can’t blame colonialism,’ he wrote: “It is just not convincing, 40 years on, to blame Africa’s problems on the ‘lines on the map’, the arbitrary boundary-making of the men in sola topis.”

SOURCE: CNN

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Getting Ghanaian Youth into Ethical Agriculture

As Ghana’s capital Accra expands, green spaces have diminished and fast food is starting to become a norm; however, agriculturists want to ensure that children understand where their food comes from – and how to grow it themselves. Tucked away in one of Accra’s few green spaces, children are spending their school holiday learning about ethical agriculture and healthy living. Ghana, like many nations across the world, is seeing a rise in fast food consumption and the associated health risks. Fried local street food and fast food restaurants are common sights throughout the capital. Lauren Goodwin, founder of the Under the Mango Tree Camp, says she sees people, especially in cities, becoming disconnected from their food source.  This month, the children have been learning about all aspects of ethical agriculture, from composting to creating natural pesticides. Parents say the camp is both informative and fun for their children.  Goodwin, who emigrated from the United States to Ghana, worries about the health impact poor diets have on black communities. SOURCE: VOA

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UK Printing Company in Hot Water Over Juba Deals

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into British banknote and passport printer De La Rue over “suspected corruption” in its business in South Sudan, sending shares to a 16-year low. De La Rue said it intends to cooperate with the SFO in its investigation. The investigation is a further setback for De La Rue, which produces passports for 40 countries, after it said in May that its chief executive would quit and it warned of a profit downturn this year. Shares in the company fell as much as 17.4 per cent to 246 pence at 1311 GMT, hitting their lowest since July 2003.SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN

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South African Taxpayers to Carry the Electricity Load

A financial crisis confronting SA’s state power utility has become a national debt problem. Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Tuesday unveiled a second multibillion-dollar bailout for Eskom Holdings within five months, aid that may force the cash-strapped government to increase borrowing and taxes. That could in turn trigger a credit-rating downgrade and enormous outflow of funds, raise the cost of new debt and stymie efforts to revive the moribund economy. Further details of a government task team turnaround plan, which includes splitting Eskom into generation, transmission and distribution units under a state holding company, remain under wraps. The board also has to name a new CEO to replace Phakamani Hadebe, who will leave at the end of July, while the appointment of a chief restructuring officer is imminent.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Affording Ethiopian Girls an Education

It’s estimated that more than 100 million girls under the age of 18 will be married in the next decade. This video shows how in Ethiopia a scheme involving solar lamps is helping thousands of girls stay in school longer and avoid marriage until they are adults.

SOURCE: BBC

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Time To Completely Ban Canned Lion Hunting In Africa

The lion population is dropping rapidly throughout Africa. A century ago, around 200,000 lions roamed the continent, and now there are a mere 25,000 left. At this rate by 2119, there may be none left. About 200 facilities across South Africa breed lions for canned hunting, and as many as 6,000 lions are stockpiled for hunters.

South Africa is considered the top destination for canned lion hunting and international animal welfare organization, Network for Animals (NFA), has urgently called for South African decision makers to address the legislative gaps around this cruel practice.

Canned lion hunting is illegal in South Africa, but captive-bred lion hunting is allowed. Lions are bred in captivity and held in small enclosures until they are shot and killed. 

NFA’s chief campaigner David Barritt said there was a fine line between the two – and regulations differ by province, creating confusion that canned lion hunters take advantage of.

“The result is that South Africa is now the worst offender in Africa for a practice that has been universally condemned as cruel. Our country is now the world’s largest exporter of trophy lion heads,” he said.

“No government can condone the drugging and shooting of captive animals in a travesty of hunting that frequently leads to a lion dying a slow, lingering death, riddled with bullets. It’s time for the legislative loopholes to be closed because – make no mistake – canned lion hunting brings shame to South Africa.”

Barritt said government had so far been ignoring calls to completely outlaw canned lion hunting. Trophy hunting is big business in South Africa and according to BBC News, it was worth almost a billion rand in 2013 ($70m, £50m).

“But this is generally understood to be for wild animals, not those bred in captivity just to be shot,” the BBC reported, then posing the question: “Are lion hunters in South Africa shooting tame animals?”

“The clear answer to that is yes. When a lioness gives birth, her cubs are forcibly taken from her, and used as a petting tool for tourists, who often pose and take photographs with them. When these tamed lions get bigger and harder to handle, they are moved to an enclosed area and stay there until someone pays to shoot them,” said Barritt.

They can’t run, hide or defend themselves in any way. These animals are frequently drugged to make it easier for hunters, who often shoot the creature while sitting in their nearby vehicles. In most cases, it takes several shots before the animal dies. And canned lion hunting is not the only danger lions face.

 “Lions are being poached for their feet and bones to be exported to Asian countries, where they are marketed as virtual magic potions, a cure for all ills. It’s ridiculous nonsense with no scientific foundation and if left unchecked, it will wipe out the lion population in Africa,” said Barritt.

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Leak Reveals How Mauritius Siphons Tax From Poor Nations To Benefit Elites

Mauritius Leaks, a new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 54 journalists from 18 countries, provides an inside look at how the former French colony has transformed itself into a thriving financial center, at least partly at the expense of its African neighbors and other less-developed countries. Based on a cache of 200,000 confidential records from the Mauritius office of the Bermuda-based offshore law firm Conyers Dill & Pearman, the investigation reveals how a sophisticated financial system based on the island is designed to divert tax revenue from poor nations back to the coffers of Western corporations and African oligarchs, with Mauritius getting a share. The files date from the early 1990s to 2017. The island, which sells itself as a “gateway” for corporations to the developing world, has two main selling points: bargain-basement tax rates and, crucially, a battery of “tax treaties” with 46 mostly poorer countries. Pushed by Western financial institutions in the 1990s, the treaties have proved a boon for Western corporations, their legal and financial advisers, and Mauritius itself — and a disaster for most of the countries that are its treaty partners.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM
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When the Rights of Tribal People Clash with Conservation Efforts

The situation across the vast Kahuzi-Biéga national park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a frontline of a simmering and sometimes deadly conflict between two largely impoverished groups: the autochthon people, forced out of the forest as part of conservation efforts, and the rangers, who are tasked with protecting the land. Home to the endangered eastern lowland (Grauer) gorilla, is itself a microcosm of growing tensions across the globe. The autochthon sell the charcoal to traders, who in turn sell it at a giant markup in the nearby city of Bukavu, on the border with Rwanda, where it is used as cooking fuel. The clashes with the autochthon have contributed to a growing crisis of morale, fuelled by the longer term problem of armed militias who operate within the park’s boundaries, and low pay. The rangers earn a basic salary of around $100 (£79) a month before additional payments – barely enough, they say, to live on.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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The “Terrifying Prospect” that Drug-resistant Malaria could Spread to Africa

Malaria is treated with a combination of two drugs – artemisinin and piperaquine. The drug combo was introduced in Cambodia in 2008. But by 2013, the first cases of the parasite mutating and developing resistance to both drugs were detected, in western parts of the country. The latest study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, analysed blood samples from patients across South East Asia. Inspecting the parasite’s DNA showed resistance had spread across Cambodia and was also in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Huge progress has been made towards eliminating malaria. However, the development of drug resistance threatens that progress. The other issue is if the resistance spreads further and reaches Africa, where more than nine in 10 cases of the disease are.SOURCE: BBC
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Overfishing and Climate Change take their Toll in Malawi

Hundreds of local traders gather each morning and afternoon at Senga only to find that fish populations are falling in Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest body of freshwater. “We were hoping to catch a half-boat full or maybe a quarter-boat … but I’m afraid the fish are dwindling in numbers.” Bordering three countries — Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique — Lake Malawi stretches across more than 29,000 square kilometers (11,200 square miles) with over 1,000 species of fish. The 14,000 people living at Senga Bay depend on the lake for food and for their livelihood. For both locals and climate experts, declining fish numbers reflect a combination of environmental change and overfishing that augurs ill for the future. The World Bank ranks Malawi among the top 10 at-risk countries in Africa to climate change, with cyclones and floods among the major threats.  According to USAID, the number of rainfalls incidents in the aid-dependent country is likely to decrease — but each rainfall will be more intense, leading to droughts and floods. That leaves Malawi’s agriculture-based economy sharply vulnerable to climatic events and entrenched poverty heightens pressure on the environment.

SOURCE: VOA
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Support to Nationalise Kenya Airways

Kenya’s parliament voted to nationalise the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue. Parliament’s transport committee, however, rejected that plan, recommending instead the nationalisation of the airline in a report debated by the national assembly on June 18. The government will now draw up an implementation plan, with clear time lines. Kenya is seeking to emulate countries like Ethiopia which run air transport assets from airports to fuelling operations under a single company, using funds from the more profitable parts to support others, such as national airlines. The committee’s report proposes that Kenya set up an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways. Another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport. The committee’s report also recommended the holding company be given tax concessions for a period to be determined and that it be exempted from paying excise duty on all goods, including jet fuel.

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Another Blow to Zimbabweans

Commuter transport fares rose in tandem with fuel price increases effected by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA). The price of diesel rose to 7.19 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, up from 5.84 Zimbabwe dollars per liter, while that of petrol rose from 6.10 dollars per liter to 7.47 per liter. Operators did not increase fares the last time fuel prices went up on July 12. ZERA has been periodically hiking fuel prices to keep them in the region of the prevailing foreign currency exchange rate. Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube said recently that fuel and electricity tariffs would be reviewed because the current pricing model was no longer sustainable. Fuel prices have gone up several times in 2019, starting with a 150 percent increase in January which saw the price of petrol go up from 1.64 dollars per liter to 3.39 dollars when the local currency was still pegged at par with the U.S. dollar.

SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

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CNN’s Inside Africa Investigates the Conservation of Zambia’s Black Rhinos

There were once around 12,000 black rhinos in Zambia until the population was wiped out by the turn of the century. A group of local conservationists have gradually reintroduced them and are now discovering new ways to sustain their growing population. The conservationists are dedicated to their work, using a mixture of technology and on-foot tracking to cover the 22,000 square kilometre park. With so much land to cover, and a constant rotation of staff, over 400 scouts are employed from the local area to protect the wildlife on the ground. Another important part of North Luangwa National Park’s local impact is their educational programme. Since it started in 2003, it has reached around 2,500 children. The conservation at North Luangwa National Park is important for the local area, for Zambia as a whole, and for black rhino numbers across the world.SOURCE: ATTA

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Helping Young Africans Access Premium Financial and Lifestyle Services

Nigerian fintech startup Fundall has launched a digital ecosystem called beta with over 300 early adopters in May, Fundall provides savings and investment services, SME credit and short term loans, an open e-commerce platform, debit and credit card solutions, and other premium financial services to users. Chief executive officer Taiwo Obasan said Fundall was focused on educating its customers about various financial services, helping them access different products, and providing them with an aggregated view of their assets and liabilities. The bootstrapped Fundall has raised small amounts of funding, and is currently only active in Nigeria. Obasan said its “big vision” was to enter other African markets in a few years.SOURCE: DISRUPT AFRICA

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Ethiopian Airlines Group Opens Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa

Located five minutes away from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, the five-star hotel aims to increase the number of tourists entering the country, providing seamless hospitality services to the Ethiopian Airline partners and transit passengers. The Skylight Hotel will meet the international standards with 373 rooms, three luxurious restaurants and an executive lounge. The hotel offers three separate day-light and two VIP private meeting rooms for corporate meetings, a Grand Ballroom that seats 2000 people and a Health Club with outdoor swimming pool, mini-golf courses, a spa and massage room and gym. 

SOURCE: IOL TRAVEL

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Be Careful What you Sing in Juba

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has banned anyone from singing the national anthem unless he is present. Information Minister Michael Makuei said that different leaders and institutions were playing the anthem at whim, which was an abuse of the national tune that was written shortly before independence in 2011. Makuei said that with the exception of South Sudan’s embassies, which represented the president, and schools where children are taught the anthem, no one was allowed to sing the song in Kiir’s absence. “We are seeing now even a minister, undersecretary, even governor or state minister, whenever there is a function, the national anthem is sung.” The minister said that military leaders had also been banned from addressing the public when in uniform. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Movie About Black Women Mathematicians Inspires Local Learner

Seventeen-year-old Someleze Mjekula is not your average teenager. Quiet and self assured, he achieved an incredible 100% in physical science in his matric finals last year, overcoming the twin challenges of township living and the woefully underresourced South African education system. It’s enabled him to successfully apply for a place in the University of Cape Town’s BSc (Eng) Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering degree programme.

The Mdantsane teenager’s remarkable results are partly down to his own aptitude but it was his mother and the novel after-school extra-tuition programme, Kutlwanong Promaths, that pushed him to achieve full marks. “She was very supportive of my education,” he says of his mom, “but she battled to understand why I was getting marks in the 90s and not 100%. She was shouting, she would get angry, I don’t know what for because I worked hard, but she didn’t care. She just wanted a 100%.”

It was at Umlazi High School in Grade 8 – which he jokingly refers to as a “concentration camp”, especially over the exam season – that he was introduced to Kutlwanong Promaths. The extra-tuition township network programme of 15 centres offers Grade 10-12 learners extra lessons in maths and science from Friday to Sunday. Datatec, the multinational ICT solutions and services group, sponsors the Mdantsane centre of Kutlwanong Promaths. 

Looking back, Someleze believes the competition from fellow learners in the Promaths class forced him to aim for higher marks. “I was averaging between 60% and 80%, but my fellow learners were getting above 90%, which just pushed me to get there.” The centres, which attract learners from various high schools in the communities in which they are situated, have established an all-encompassing model of learner care and development, which includes a good degree of peer-to-peer support, and incentives for top performers (such as a weekend away in Cape Town). They also foster a sense of responsibility among learners, encouraging them to practise respect and diligence in everything they do, teaching life skills that will benefit not only the students’ studies but build character too. 

“I would attend Promaths classes on a Friday from 3pm to 5pm, then again on a Saturday from 8am to 3pm and also on a Sunday from 8am to 11am. Maths was always my strong point, so I was surprised when I got above 90% for science as well – that made me really happy,” says Someleze. 

Raised in a single-parent household after his father passed away a day after he was born, he grew up in a modest township home with two elder sisters, where there was just enough income to pay for things like transport to school. His mother worked hard to provide a stable home life, so it’s perhaps not surprising that a Hollywood movie that celebrates the remarkable achievements of black female mathematicians inspired Someleze. The 2016 American biographic drama Hidden Figures tells the story of the women who worked at NASA during the Space Race, and how one in particular, Katherine Goble, overcame institutional racism and sexism to calculate the trajectories of Apollo 11 and Space Shuttle missions, going on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

Although he initially wanted to study aeronautical engineering, his teachers advised him that jobs in that field were scarce, and suggested mechatronics instead. Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering that combines a fundamental background in mechanical engineering with light-current electrical engineering, and is an excellent basis on which to build valuable engineering roles in modern industry. With South Africa’s dire skills shortages in engineering, Someleze’s job prospects, if he qualifies, look good. A mechatronic degree can open doors to roles such as robotics engineer, automation engineer, electronics design engineer, mechanical design engineer, data scientist or big data analyst, instrumentation engineer and software engineer. 

Promaths runs a university alumni programme too, something Someleze has leaned on as he’s adjusted to the challenges and pressures of his first year at university. “The workload is hectic and I’ve had to change my study techniques but now everything is good,” he says. “I have the support of a great set of mentors, both on and off campus, including my Promaths mentors.” The alumni programme offers powerful motivational and peer-to-peer support, with activities including revisiting centres, organising matric career days and network sessions. 

Someleze is enthusiastic about the role Promaths played in enabling him to realise a dream. “Our principal would remind us that Datatec had donated a lot of money to make our futures better, and that we needed to pull up our socks. Companies should be investing in Promaths, because it helps us a lot.”

Thanks to the support of a loving family, the incredible tuition of Promaths and the inspiring story of a Hollywood movie, Someleze’s future looks bright.

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Kenya has Africa’s Largest Wind Power Farm

In a bid to boost electricity generating capacity and to meet the country’s ambitious goal of 100% green energy by 2020. The farm, known as the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) will generate around 310 megawatts of power to the national grid and will increase the country’s electricity supply by 13%. An international consortium of lenders and producers, which includes the African Development Bank, came together to install the 365 wind turbines, which cost around $700m, the largest private investment in Kenya’s history. The 52-meter blade span windmills will take advantage of high winds in the remote area. In the past years, Kenya has made progress in investing in clean sources of energy. According to the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report, the country is 9th in the world for its geothermal power generating capacity of up to 700 megawatts. Kenya’s LTWP is not the only existing wind power project on the continent. Africa has fully operational wind farms in Morocco, Ethiopia, and South Africa providing sustainable energy.SOURCE: CNN

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South Africa’s Corruption Watchdog Comes Under Fire

A Constitutional Court’s decision to uphold a cost order against Busisiwe Mkhwebane only adds to the embattled Public Protector’s woes. A number of Mkhwebane’s reports have either been set aside or taken under review. According to Business Day, a total of 30 Public Protector reports have been taken on review to date. In addition, her fitness to hold office is being looked into by Parliament’s justice and correctional services portfolio committee. After being in office for more than two years, Mkhwebane has faced criticism for some of her reports, and it has been said that she is “incompetent” and that her credibility has “plummeted”. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said he would be seeking an urgent judicial review of Mkhwebane’s report which found that he had violated the executive code of ethics by not declaring donations to his ANC presidential campaign in 2017. Mkhwebane previously said that her office was going through “testing times” and that the institution was faced with attacks from every angle, including the “most unfair reporting in the media”. 

SOURCE: NEWS 24

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Kenya’s Finance Minister Caught with Hands in the State Coffers

Henry Rotich and other treasury officials were arrested Monday on corruption and fraud charges over a multi-million dollar project to build two mega dams. Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had ordered the arrest and prosecution of Rotich and 27 other top officials on charges of fraud, abuse of office and financial misconduct in the latest scandal to rock graft-wracked Kenya. Rotich, his principal secretary and the chief executive of Kenya’s environmental authority then presented themselves to the police. Haji said the conception, procurement and payment processes for the dam project — part of a bid to improve water supply in the drought-prone country — was “riddled with irregularities”. According to the contract, the project was to cost a total of $450 million (401 million euros), but the treasury had increased this amount by $164 million without regard to performance or works. Some $180 million has already been paid out, with little construction to show for it. Another $6 million was paid out for the resettlement of people living in areas that would be affected by the project, but there is no evidence of land being acquired for this, the chief prosecutor said.SOURCE: VOA

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Giving Sierra Leone the Counselling it Deserves

Sierra Leone witnessed a decade-long civil war and the worst Ebola outbreak ever, leaving hundreds of thousands traumatised in one of the world’s poorest countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10 percent of the country’s population of seven million has mental health problems. Due to an unknown number of unreported cases, the reach of depression, psychosis or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is likely to be higher. Psychological help for these disorders is hardly available as there are only two practising psychiatrists in the country. With more than half the population living in extreme poverty, daily hardships and misery can turn into what scientists call “toxic stress” and trigger or amplify mental health problems. For children growing up in adversity, this “toxic stress” can have damaging effects on learning, behaviour and health throughout their life. For a long time, there was a lack of political will to change the situation. But now, individuals, activists, medical professionals and NGOs are coming together to help the country come out of the dire situation.

SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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Growing African Agriculture One Byte At A Time

As agriculture yields fall, digital services are providing smart solutions that are increasing smallholder farmers’ productivity, profits and resilience to climate change—a threat to agriculture. Econet Wireless have partnered with the Zimbabwe Farmers Union – which represents more than one million smallholder farmers – to offer the ZFU EcoFarmer Combo, a bundled information and financial service. Members pay one dollar for a membership subscription. Through it they receive crop or livestock tips based on their farming area as well as weather-based indexed crop and funeral insurance. EcoFarmer, a mobile platform developed by Econet Wireless, the largest telecommunication services company in Zimbabwe. The EcoFarmer mobile platform provides innovative micro insurance for farmers to insure their inputs and crops against drought or excessive rain. They access these services via sms and voice-based messages on their mobile phones.
 
SOURCE: AFRICA.COM
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The Desert Warriors Take the AFCON Title

Algeria won the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in nearly three decades on Friday, beating Senegal, 1-0, in the final with a deflected goal in the opening seconds by striker Baghdad Bounedjah. Bounedjah’s shot on Algeria’s first attack deflected off Senegal defender Salif Sané and looped over goalkeeper Alfred Gomis at Cairo International Stadium. The goal was timed at 79 seconds — the fastest in a Cup of Nations final for at least 39 years — and delivered Algeria just a second African title and first since 1990. WATCH how the sporting heroes were welcomed back home.

SOURCE:  THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Democratic Republic of Congo’s Health Minister Quits

Oly Ilunga, resigned on Monday in protest at the presidency’s announcement last week that it would take control of the response to the Ebola outbreak instead of his team. In a resignation letter posted on his Twitter account, Ilunga decried “interference in the management of the response” to the outbreak, which is the second deadliest in history, the creation of parallel chains of authority and criticised outside pressure to deploy a second Ebola vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) over his objections. Ilunga says the J&J vaccine has not been proved to be effective and that deploying a second vaccine would confuse people. The company has said the vaccine, which has gone through phase 1 trials, is safe. He has overseen the nearly year-long response to DRC’s latest Ebola epidemic, which is the second deadliest in history. It has killed more than 1,700 people and infected more than 800 others.SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Nigeria Payments Firm Goes IPO Route

Interswitch has hired advisers to resurrect plans for a stock-market listing in London and Lagos later this year. JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Standard Bank Group Ltd. are among the firms working on an initial public offering, which may value the financial technology company at $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion. Interswitch, owned by private equity firm Helios Investment Partners, has engaged with banks in recent weeks after a thwarted IPO attempt two years ago. The potential listing would follow those of two other major African and Middle Eastern tech company share sales this year. Jumia Technologies AG, dubbed the Amazon of Africa, listed in New York earlier this year, while Dubai-based payments firm Network International Holdings Plc went public in London. Helios is among several private funds that specialize in investing in African assets as the economic recovery taking place across the continent bolsters investor sentiment and infrastructure plans.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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Travel Advisory Halts Flights to Cairo

British Airways and Lufthansa abruptly suspended flights to Cairo from Saturday over security concerns, but giving no details about what may have prompted the move. “We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world, and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment,” British Airways said in a statement. Lufthansa later said it had cancelled its flights to Cairo on Saturday from Munich and Frankfurt and will resume its flights on Sunday.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Entrepreneurs Thrive in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp

Kakuma in north-western Kenya has an annual economy of over $56m, with a customer base of over 180,000 people. Refugee camps like Kakuma are effectively large towns with their own mini-economies. Although remote, Kakuma has a population of more than 185,000 people. Refugees here come from many backgrounds, and money circulates as they take on casual odd jobs – from construction to washing clothes – or start small businesses. Commercial financial services tend to ignore the refugee market – despite its potential profitability. That limits refugees’ ability to safely bank the small savings they make, remittances from friends and family abroad, or to tap into business opportunities. SOURCE: THE NEW HUMANITARIAN | BBC

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How to Commercialize the Vast African Database

Tshilidzi Marwala from the South African Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution says ” We need to develop technological capacity to gather, process and monetize the African database. To achieve these, we ought to improve and expand our educational institutions, paying attention to the development of programs in data science. We need to embed data science subjects such as data analytics and software engineering into primary, secondary and tertiary education. Governments and the African Union ought to expand projects such as the Deep Learning Indaba as well as the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences that are developing mathematics, machine learning and artificial intelligence expertise in Africa. To gather data, we need to politically organize ourselves to create economies of scale. Regionally, organizations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should create regional data banks that collect, protect and store regional data.

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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Why Zimbabwe’s Inflation Soared to its Highest Level in a Decade

On paper finance minister Mthuli Ncube seems to be doing everything by the book, he is using the orthodox economic policy often prescribed by the global Bretton Woods lending institutions to try to turn around a sickly economy. The government is running a budget surplus for the first time in years and has stopped runaway money printing, which led to hyperinflation of 500-billion percent in 2008. Last month the central bank raised its overnight lending rate to 50% to protect the local currency after ending a decade of dollarisation. Ncube, a former chief economist at the African Development Bank, agreed to a staff monitoring programme with the IMF in May, under which Harare promised not to borrow offshore and to cut reliance on the central bank to finance deficits. All that points to a government willing to break with the ruinous policies of the past yet inflation came in at 175% in June. Analysts note, that government reforms to set fiscal discipline aren’t in place; more than 80% of Zimbabweans earn a living in the informal sector, which is typically unresponsive to the kinds of fiscal and monetary policy tools used by finance ministers and central bankers to lower prices and stimulate the economy and finally is the lack of confidence many Zimbabweans have in the country’s economic polices and its national currency.

SOURCES: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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What the New Prosper Africa Policy Means for US-Africa Relations

Africa has been low on the list of US foreign policy priorities, but its new Prosper Africa policy seeks to accelerate two-way investment and trade.Gyude Moore, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development say the new policy needs to align with promises made in the newly adopted African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) to be of mutual benefit to both the US and Africa. This mix of challenge and promise forces Africa to pursue a variety of partnerships, since every partner deploys unique competences. For the CFTA to be successful, the US must restrain its inclination to make Africa a theatre of great power conflict with China. Both China and the US are indispensable partners in pursuit of the CFTA’s goals. American or Chinese Africa policies that are contingent on Africans choosing one partner over the other will consistently yield sub-optimal outcomes for all parties. Prosper Africa must be the American response to Africa’s ambitious CFTA, and its aims should reflect that. Rather than mimicking the very limited framework of Power Africa, the US should design Prosper Africa to match the ambition demonstrated in the creation, in less than two years, of the largest single market in the world. Africa will look for a statement of American belief in the promise of Africa – an investment in Africa for its inherent value, not as a prize to be won in a competition with China.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Tough Economic Decisions for Central Banks Across Africa

Central banks in sub-Saharan Africa’s key economies will take direction from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell when they make calls on interest rates in the next 10 days. Since the Monetary Policy Committees last met, South Africa’s statistics agency said that economy contracted the most in a decade in the first quarter, Nigeria passed measures to compel banks to boost lending and a drought in Kenya pushed up inflation. A stronger currency and moderating inflation in an economy that may have fallen into a second recession in consecutive years gave the South African Reserve Bank scope to lower its key interest rate by 25 basis points for the first time in more than a year. Inflation in Ghana slowed to a five-month low in June and has now been inside the central bank’s target band for over a year. Nigeria’s central bank has made it clear that it’s keen to boost lending to help an economy that’s still struggling to recover from a 2016 contraction, but with sticky inflation and the need to attract foreign inflows to support the naira, the central bank has started to resort to other measures than interest cuts to boost credit growth. Kenya’s MPC will meet as a drought that’s threatening the food security of almost 2 million people and higher fuel costs drives up prices. Angola’s central bank has reduced the increments by which it cut interest rates since it entered an International Monetary Fund financial program. 

SOURCE: VOA | CENTRAL BANKING

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How African Firms Can Benefit from Dubai’s Free Zones

Free zones in Dubai were set up to encourage foreign trade and investment in the city. The zones are eco-systems for businesses and offer well equipped districts with specialised amenities, facilities and infrastructure for any business to hit the ground running. A business looking to operate in the free zone gains access to a value chain of services and benefits, the most attractive being 100 percent ownership of your business, zero tax on profits and zero percent on personal income tax. The Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) hosts 27 out of the 30 major banks in the world, these include South Africa’s Standard Bank and Nigeria’s Zenith Bank. DIFC’s Chief Business Development Officer, Salmaan Jaffery says Dubai has a diversification story to tell, and believes that Africa will contribute greatly to that tale. The centre is looking at expanding its offerings in the services space and looks at companies like MTN, Africa’s largest mobile operator, and M-Pesa, the mobile phone money transfer and microfinancing service, to build on that vision.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Kenya Won’t Block Huawei From Rolling Out the 5G Network

The Kenyan government is partnering with Huawei to build a smart city in Konza Technopolis as part of the government’s efforts to make the country a technology hub. The Minister of Communications and Technology says Kenya’s policies are not driven by the United States and as such the country would assert its sovereignty and take what works and innovate with it. “I think for us; we are not going to be tied to what other people are saying. We are going to ensure we have value for money for our citizens and we will continue to ensure we have security. This is even as we can innovate and ensure we have the security and all that we need,” Mucheru said. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity and promises an increase in speeds of up to 20 times. It is generally about the better utilisation of radio spectrum and allowing several more devices to access the mobile internet at the same time.

SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

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Millions of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa Don’t have a Bank Account

World leaders are to pledge to shape the technological revolution sweeping through Africa by acting to lift the threat of 400 million predominantly rural women being excluded from digital financial services. G7 finance ministers meeting in France aims to endorse a paper from the Gates Foundation saying there is a serious risk that digital technology and mobile banking will bypass millions of women in Africa, leaving them disempowered for a generation. The initiative, requiring $255m in initial funding and regulatory action across Africa,is designed to prevent “the inequalities of the past being insinuated into the future” as cultural and market barriers lead to women being excluded from mobile banking, e-commerce and smartphone technology. A mobile money revolution in sub-Saharan Africa is under way in which the number of people with an account doubled to 21% in 2017. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa women are 13% less likely to own a mobile phone and 41% less likely to use mobile internet than men.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Counting the Cost of Cameroon’s Crisis

Cameroon’s second largest employer, the Cameroon Development Corporation, says it has been paralyzed by the separatist conflict in the country’s English-speaking regions.  The agricultural giant has not been able to pay its staff for a year because of falling production and revenue. The village of Meanja used to be a banana production center in Cameroon’s English-speaking southwest. Two years ago, 2,000 people lived here, and many worked for the Cameroon Development Corporation’s banana production unit. The Cameroon Development Corporation is the central African country’s second largest employer and runs banana, palm oil, and rubber plantations. But the three-year conflict between Anglophone rebels and government troops has forced the CDC to close farms and factories across the western English-speaking regions. CDC general manager Franklin Ngoni Njie says more than half of his 20,000 workers – fearing attacks – refuse to work, while the remainder work only part-time. The rebels consider state-run companies such as the CDC and institutions such as schools legitimate targets.  Last month, the Cameroon Employers Association said rebel fighters had transformed many CDC plantations into training grounds. 

SOURCE: VOA

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The Casualties of Kenya’s Clampdown on Sports Betting

Kenya has ordered the deportation of 17 foreign directors of betting firms operating in Kenya, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, almost a week after ordering telecoms firm Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting firms. Online sports betting companies such as SportPesa have grown rapidly in the East African nation in recent years, riding a wave of enthusiasm for sports, with the government putting their combined revenue at $2 billion last year, up from the previous year. However, that has raised government concern about the social impact of betting. In May, the country introduced new gambling regulations, including banning advertising outdoors and on social media. The gaming companies rely largely on Safaricom’s popular M-Pesa financial digital mobile platform to take bets, communicate with users and process payments. Each betting firm is assigned a unique number, known as a pay-bill, which is used to process payments from users who place bets on their mobile phones and to pay off those who win.

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Egypt Invests in New Avenues

Egyptian mobile game development startup Cryptyd has secured funding from Cairo Angels as it prepares to launch two more games in the next few months. Established in 2016, Alexandria-based mobile gaming platform Cryptyd has developed five games to date, and has now raised a second, pre-Series A funding round, with new investors affiliated with Cairo Angels and Alexandria Angels.  The startup will use to funding to further expand its product development and target more markets. Funds will be used to enhance marketing and overall operations to grow throughout the MENA region. “This investment will reinforce our position in the MENA mobile gaming landscape, and will accelerate our ability to improve our product and overall user experience. This investment will assist in the launch of our latest games,” said Ahmed Alaa, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cryptyd.

SOURCE: DISRUPT AFRICA

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Johnny Clegg’s Death Adds to List of South African Icons who Have Passed

President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to music legend Johnny Clegg, who died on Tuesday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three-and-a-half years ago. “It is our collective sadness of the country to also have learned of the passing away of Johnny Clegg, known to many of us as Juluka Johnny, who was one of the early persons in the country to demonstrate the reality of not only social cohesion but cultural integration.” Mr. Clegg had pancreatic cancer, his manager Roddy Quin told the state broadcaster. Sometimes called the “White Zulu,” Mr. Clegg was a British-born singer whose multiracial bands attracted an international following during the era of white minority rule in South Africa. He crafted hits inspired by Zulu and township harmonies, as well as folk and other influences. One of his best-known songs is “Asimbonanga,” which means “We’ve never seen him” in Zulu. It refers to South Africans during apartheid when images of then-imprisoned Mandela were banned. Mandela was released in 1990 after 27 years in prison and became South Africa’s first black president in democratic elections four years later. Introducing the Presidency’s budget vote debate, Ramaphosa also recognised the late ANC veteran Lesiba “Ike” Maphoto and the actress Nomhle Nkonyeni. He also paid tribute to soccer star Marc Batchelor and former Springbok rugby player, James Small.SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST | EWN

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Nigeria’s Gains in an Immunological War

Two years ago, the country had just over 3 million people with HIV, second in the world only to South Africa. Roughly 8 percent of all the HIV-positive people in the world lived in Nigeria, which has less than 3 percent of the world’s overall population. It wasn’t a hopeless fight. There were antiretroviral treatments available for the disease, after all, but many Nigerians weren’t getting them. Instead, many were refusing to get tested at all, and those who did were often kicked out of family homes or ostracized socially, and didn’t have much access to treatment or support. In 2016, only about 10 percent of Nigerians said they had ever taken an HIV test.  According to this year’s Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey, the number has dropped to 1.9 million by an active drive fo counseling and testing. Antiretroviral therapy sites in the country doubled between 2012 and 2014, according to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, while sites focused on preventing mother-to-child transmission increased eightfold.SOURCE: OZY

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UK Visa Issues Leave Bitter Taste with Africans

British MPs have warned that the UK visitor visa system is “broken” and doing “severe damage” to UK-Africa relations. The problems faced by experts trying to visit the UK are so widespread that many Africans believe the Home Office to be prejudiced against them and deliberately trying to reduce visitor numbers. After six months taking evidence from people working across a range of sectors, cross-party parliamentary groups for Africa, Malawi and diaspora, development and migration report that UK visitor visas are “inaccessible to many Africans, under-resourced, unaccountable and widely perceived as biased or even discriminating against Africans”. One problem faced by visa applicants was being required to travel hundreds of miles simply to apply for a visa. Another was financial discrimination, such as people being rejected because they don’t have enough money in their bank accounts. This was given as a refusal reason even where all expenses were being paid by British sponsors. The lack of an appeals system was also cited as a major problem, meaning that the only way to challenge a refusal is to begin again with a costly new application.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Placing Education Above Differences

Cameroon’s civil society groups are urging young people to return to schools in the country’s volatile English-speaking regions. Most schools in the two regions have been closed because of attacks and kidnappings stemming from the war between separatists and the military.  The back-to-school campaign is being carried out by associations of traditional rulers, clergy, parents and members of Cameroon’s national assembly. An estimated 80 percent of the schools in the north and southwest have been closed since separatists began their uprising in 2017, citing the alleged overbearing use of French in the African country. The only schools still open are in big towns such as Bamenda, capital of the northwest region, and Buea, capital of the southwest region, where there is relative calm. Cameroon’s minister of secondary education, Nalova Lyonga, praised children and teachers who want to brave the crisis and return to schools in their villages.

SOURCE:  VOA

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Big Returns For Businesses In Rutenderi Thanks To New Mini-Grid

A new 50kW mini-grid in the village of Rutenderi in eastern Rwanda, has kick-started the local economy and is beginning to transform the sleepy rural village into a productive hub. The new mini-grid was formally launched on 16 May 2019 and is now making electricity accessible to the whole village, including its 560 households and 36 businesses. The new mini-grid was commissioned by Absolute Energy, an off-grid utility developer that specialises in renewable energy solutions for businesses in Africa. Energy 4 Impact is a key partner of Absolute Energy, providing the expertise to help small businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the newly available source of power. Energy 4 Impact helps businesses to realise the benefits of having a reliable source of energy and supports them in developing new lines and activities. This in turn gives a boost to the economic and social development of the whole village as new products and services become available. The company is mentoring eight micro enterprises in the village, six of which are now connected to the new mini-grid: two millers, a popcorn maker, a bar, a welder, and tailor. A video showroom and a carpenter will soon be connected. Energy 4 Impact business mentors help them to see the opportunities of using electricity to make their businesses more efficient, cut costs and diversify. 

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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The Uphill Battle of Recovering From War

Sierra Leone is on the road to recovery after years of civil war, but the ruinous effects of the conflict continue to be felt. Nearly half of the population is illiterate, drinking water is scarce, and electricity is practically non-existent. While there have been improvements in the country’s infrastructure, daily life for most people is still a struggle. After Fatimata’s husband died a few years ago, her brother’s friend agreed to house her and her seven children. The whole family lives in a single 10sq metres sized room in the ramshackle house. To make a living, they work together in a stone quarry, breaking down granite into gravel. Around 100 men and women toil away in the quarry every day. Their fate rests in the hands of the foreman who has taken advantage of the country’s reconstruction and subsequent demand for gravel. But the slightest challenge to his authority can lead to their dismissal, and put their livelihoods at risk.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Is this a Historic Moment for Sudan’s Transition?

Sudan’s ruling military council and opposition leaders have signed a power-sharing accord after all-night talks. The deal lacks crucial details which are expected to be debated on Friday. The two sides have agreed to rotate control of the sovereign council for just over three years. That council will be made of five civilians, five military figures, and an 11th civilian, to be chosen by the 10 members. A military general will be in charge of that council for the first 21 months, then a civilian will lead for the following 18 months, followed by elections. They also agreed that there will be a cabinet in which the prime minister will be chosen by the protesters and two key posts – defence and interior minister – will be nominated by the military. The military has been pushing for immunity from prosecution after protesters’ deaths, but this is absent from the signed deal. It does, however, promise an investigation into the violence.SOURCE: BBC

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Clampdown on Sports Betting in Kenya

Kenya has ordered the deportation of 17 foreign directors of betting firms operating in Kenya, the interior ministry said on Wednesday, almost a week after ordering telecoms firm Safaricom to stop processing payments for sports betting firms. Online sports betting companies such as SportPesa have grown rapidly in the East African nation in recent years, riding a wave of enthusiasm for sports, with the government putting their combined revenue at $2 billion last year, up from the previous year. However, that has raised government concern about the social impact of betting. In May, the country introduced new gambling regulations, including banning advertising outdoors and on social media. The gaming companies rely largely on Safaricom’s popular M-Pesa financial digital mobile platform to take bets, communicate with users and process payments. Each betting firm is assigned a unique number, known as a pay-bill, which is used to process payments from users who place bets on their mobile phones and to pay off those who win.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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In the Hot Seat: Zuma’s Day 3 at Zondo Commission

South Africa’s deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday adjourned until Friday morning a public inquiry into state corruption, after lawyers Zuma’s lawyers said he was being questioned unfairly. “Chair I hear you, and I appreciate what you’re saying, but I’m really being cross-examined very thoroughly on the details. And I don’t know how come,” Zuma told the chairman of the inquiry. Zuma’s lawyers have argued that the inquiry’s lawyers should not cross-examine the former president because they say evidence given by other witnesses does not directly implicate Zuma in corruption and fraud. Zuma’s lawyers told Zondo that the former president, who has been testifying since Monday, had been brought to the inquiry under “false pretenses” because he was being cross-examined, whereas he thought he would only have to answer straightforward points of clarity.

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Afrobeats and Gqom Featured in New Lion King Soundtrack

The tracklist for the ‘The Lion King: The Gift’ has been revealed ahead of the film’s release on Friday, July 19, 2019. The 14-song album features original Beyoncé tracks and collaborations with other artists. Beyonce said in a statement said the collaborations with African musicians were important because the film is set in Africa and “authenticity and heart were important to [her].” “This is a new experience of storytelling. I wanted to do more than find a collection of songs that were inspired by the film. It is a mixture of genres and collaboration that isn’t one sound. It is influenced by everything from R&B, pop, hip hop, and Afro Beat.” Nigerian pop stars Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi perform the song Keys to the Kingdom, with the latter also appearing alongside fellow Nigerians Tekno and Yemi Alade on Don’t Jealous Me. Nigeria’s Burna Boy has a solo track, Ja Ara E, while Cameroonian artist Salatiel appears alongside Beyoncé and Pharrell on Water. Other African artists include Nigeria’s Wizkid, Ghana’s Shatta Wale, and South Africa’s Busiswa and Moonchild Sanelly.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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The Gang War Ravaging the Cape Flats

Communities on the Cape Flats in the city of Cape Town say police have lost control of gang violence. Dozens of people have been killed in turf battles since the start of the year and the government is now preparing to deploy the army to clamp down on the unrest. South Africa’s government has sought to reassure people living in Cape Town over planned deployment of the army, saying it will be temporary. The deployment involves bringing in troops from elsewhere in the country – a deliberate move to ensure that no soldiers have existing links to gang members – and preparing them for what are effectively peacekeeping duties. Crime experts have warned that a sudden crackdown on Cape Flats gangs could inadvertently spread the problem across the country, as gangsters might flee to other provinces.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA | DAILY MAVERICK

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What African Businesses Should Know About Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce

The chamber has developed the Africa Gateway Smart Application, a free app and website that facilitates access to African investment opportunities. The platform provides potential investors with everything needed to set up a business in Africa. The African Gateway Dubai Chamber helps businesses who want to “understand market dynamics, bid for tenders or connect with businesses in Africa.” The portal houses case studies, news articles as well as facts and figures needed to make an informed decision about the business opportunities available in Africa. Earlier this year, the chamber hosted an event dubbed a chamberthon, which saw five African Startups and their Dubai counterparts vie for a spot in a mentorship programme. At the end of the mentorship, the startups will have an audience with business and government leaders attending Global Business Forum Africa to pitch for backers. Under the banner “Scale Up Africa”, the chamber will host its fifth Global Business Forum in November 2019 where the conversation will centre around restoring business confidence in Africa.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Bringing Zimbabwe to a Halt

Zimbabwe’s public workers on Tuesday said they would go on strike if the government failed to increase their wages to at least $475 per month for the lowest paid employee, as resurgent inflation returned. Official figures published on Monday showed annual inflation almost doubled to 175.66% in June, piling pressure on a population struggling with shortages and stirring memories of the economic chaos of a decade ago. Leaders of government workers’ unions marched on the ministries of finance and labor in Harare on Tuesday to present their wage demands. “Civil servants are not asking for a salary increment, but rather restoration of the value of their earnings, which fell from at least US$475 to a mere US$47 currently for the lowest paid civil servant,” read part of the workers’ petition. Last week, public sector workers rejected the government’s offer of 180 million Zimbabwe dollars ($20.41 million) in additional pay for the next six months, saying it was too little. $1 = 8.82 Zimbabwe dollar.SOURCE: REUTERS

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Fears that Ebola Could Spread

The first Ebola patient in the largest city in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has died, authorities have said. The spread of the virus to Goma, a city of roughly 1 million people and a regional transport hub, has raised fears the outbreak, already the second deadliest ever Ebola epidemic, could spread more widely. Goma is home to more than a million people and lies directly on Congo’s border with Rwanda, where tens of thousands cross on foot daily. The ongoing Ebola outbreak has spread through Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces for almost a year. A small number of cases were confirmed but quickly contained in neighboring Uganda in June after a Congolese family sought treatment there. At a high-level meeting of global health officials in Geneva, the head of the World Health Organization said he would reconvene a panel of scientists to determine whether the outbreak ranks as a public health emergency of international concern, a designation that could unlock more resources to stop it but that has been declined three times before.

SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST

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Experience Art Made in Ghana

Ibrahim Mahama is a junkyard utopian, whose art involves recycling stuff that’s lost its purpose.He bought up rows and rows of dirty old plastic second-class Ghana Railways carriage seats. He packed them into shipping containers and sent them on a 5,000-mile trip, from his west African homeland to the Whitworth Art Gallery, along with some school cupboards no longer fit for purpose, exercise books of children now grown up, and the minutes of Ghanaian parliamentary debates now deemed obsolete. Then he arranged rows of seats into terraces, ringed the seats with the cupboards, and filled their shelves with the books so that intrigued visitors can thumb through them during the Manchester international festival. He’s also used the leather from the first-class seats to bind albums of historic photographs from Ghana’s early independence years. He calls the resulting installation Parliament of Ghosts. Parliament of Ghosts seems to critique many things – colonialism, Ghana’s past and Brexit, too. 

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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South Africa’s Lion Breeders Look East for New Markets

Lion parts legally exported from South Africa usually wind up in Asia, where they are often marketed as tiger parts. This lucrative business is on the rise, and according to recent research a ban enacted by the United States may have helped to ignite it. Before the ban, South Africa’s breeding and hunting facilities housed over 8,400 captive-bred lions. Many were destined for use in “put and take” hunts in which a captive-bred, sometimes tame animal is released into a fenced hunting camp for a hunter to stalk and shoot. For people short of money and time, these canned hunts, as they are commonly called, can be appealing. Compared to traditional hunts in the wild, canned lion hunts are cheaper, last days rather than weeks, and are guaranteed to produce a high-quality trophy. Americans once comprised at least half of the clientele for canned hunts. But animal-welfare advocates have long criticized the industry as rife with abuse and lacking in any conservation value. Over 80 percent of respondents said that the ban had impacted their businesses, and many reported laying off staff and euthanizing lions. While most breeders said they had scaled back operations, about 30 percent said they had decided to turn to the international bone trade. Prices for skeletons have risen by more than 20 percent since 2012.SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Death Threats Kick Off Day 2 of Zuma’s Appearance

Former president Jacob Zuma – who claims that death threats have been made against him and his children since his first appearance before the Zondo commission on Monday – still receives the protection services afforded all former heads of state. On Tuesday morning, Zuma started his continuing testimony by informing inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that his PA had received a phone call on Monday between 19:00 and 20:00. “This person said, ‘you must tell Zuma we are going to kill him, and we are going to kill his children and the people around him’,” Zuma said. He said this followed threats made against his senior counsel, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, a week or so ago. Zondo said the threats were “totally” unacceptable.When quizzed about whether Zuma would receive protection while a witness at the commission, at a press briefing following the budget vote debate for the Department of Justice on Tuesday, Director-General Vusi Madonsela said Zuma still received protection from the state, albeit not on the same scale as when he was head of state. SOURCE: NEWS 24

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Uganda Plans to Introduce New Regulations For Bean Farming

The new legislation will replace a 1991 law that only covers post-farm activities such as marketing and processing, according to the National Coffee Bill that’s currently under consideration by law makers. The law would widen governance to issues related to planting materials, harvest and post-harvest handling, research and climate change. Authorities also intend to register all coffee farmers for monitoring, according to the bill. Uganda, Africa’s second-biggest coffee grower after Ethiopia, forecasts production at 5.6-million 60kg bags in the 12 months to end-September, and projects output climbing to 20-million bags in 2025. The country largely produces the robusta variety and the bulk of the beans are exported.

SOURCE:  BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Meet the ‘Snake Man of Lagos’

Mark Ofua, a Lagos-based veterinarian, has dedicated his life to saving animals and sharing knowledge on animal conservation. He rescues distressed animals, treats them and returns them to the wild. He says all animals deserve to live on this earth. His rescues include a female ball python whose eggs he helped incubate and hatch into snakelets that were later released into the wild. On World Snake Day this video talks about his work and the importance of raising awareness.SOURCE: BBC

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Spies and other Files as Zuma Appears at the Zondo Commission

Former president Jacob Zuma has told a judicial inquiry into corruption allegations that he is the victim of a plot by foreign intelligence agencies to seek his downfall. Speaking on the first day of five days of testimony, Zuma denied he had presided over an immense system of corruption and patronage that drained billions from the country’s exchequer. Zuma was ousted last year after almost a decade in power, following a bitter internal battle within the ruling African National Congress party. He faces five days of questioning by Raymond Zondo, a senior judge, mandated to investigate allegations of “state capture” in South Africa during his rule. In his first hour before the inquiry, Zuma claimed two foreign intelligence agencies had recruited spies within the ANC as part of a scheme to control South Africa and that the inquiry was designed to smear him. The inquiry was set up after an ombudsman’s report uncovered apparent evidence of improper contact between three wealthy businessmen brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – and senior officials in Zuma’s administration. The report, which stopped short of asserting criminal behaviour, called for an investigation into whether Zuma, some of his cabinet members and some state companies acted improperly.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Terror Attack Douses Somali Journo Who Spread Light

“Passionate”, “brave” and “a shining star who was a force for good” – these were just some of the tributes that poured in for Canadian-Somali journalist Hodan Nalayeh, who died on Friday during a 14-hour hotel siege in Somalia’s port city of Kismayo. The 43-year-old, who was pregnant, was killed in an al-Shabab-claimed attack along with her husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, a year after she moved to Somalia from Canada with a mission to showcase the east African country’s rich culture and natural beauty. As the founder of Integration TV, Nalayeh used the hashtags #SomaliaSuccess and #SomaliPositivity to post videos on YouTube of Somali youth and female entrepreneurs, as well as share pictures on Twitter of her travels in the country, including the fishermen of southern Ilisi Island and camel herders in Las Anod, the northern city where she was born. Her goal, she told BBC Africa earlier this year, was to keep growing Integration TV and “keep connecting Somalis around the world and keep sharing positive stories that uplift the spirit and inspire young Somalis around the world to take charge of their destinies”.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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New Gateway for African Migrants to the Americas

Thousands of Africans are entering the region via Ecuador because of a visa policy that is lenient compared to those of most nations in the region: Citizens of most African countries can fly into the small South American country without a visa. In 2018, 1,283 people from the African continent arrived and left Ecuador, and this year that flow has grown — in just the first five months of 2019, 2,107 people passed through, according to figures from the country’s interior ministry. Since 2010, just under 15,000 people from Africa have traveled through Ecuador. From Ecuador, the migrants move by land north to Colombia and then through the treacherous rain forests of the Darién Gap to get to Panama. Then they bus through Central America, cross the Suchiate River on rafts from Guatemala into Mexico and arrive again by bus at border cities in Mexico’s north. The number of migrants from African countries seeking asylum in Mexico has doubled since 2014, from 36 to 72 this year so far, and detentions have also spiked. In the first week of June alone, more than 500 people from Africa were arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection just on the Del Rio part of the border in Texas. That’s compared to 211 African migrants who were detained there over the whole of 2018, according to a CBP media release. SOURCE: OZY

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How Will Africa’s New Trade Deal Affect Regional Pacts?

Analysts and businesspeople in the six-member Central African Economic and Monetary Community say that although the African Continental Free Trade Area launched in Niger last Sunday at an African Union summit brings hope for pan African trade, they are not sure CEMAC will be fully implemented anytime soon. CEMAC’s similar free-trade area has been plagued by corruption, national egos and a limitation of movement that have stunted the initiative. For instance, the Cameroonian town of Kiossi shares borders with Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and quite often, authorities in those two countries seal their borders without any comment. Last December, Equatorial Guinea sealed its borders for a month. That same month, Gabon was expelling foreign citizens, especially Cameroonians, from its territory for what it called security reasons. Trade between African countries has been held back by several bottlenecks, such as poor infrastructure, cumbersome border procedures, trade regulations, tariffs and the high cost of transactions. The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, however, estimates an increase in intra-African trade of 52.3 percent by 2020, asserting it will increase employment, facilitate better use of local resources for manufacturing and agriculture, and provide access to less expensive products. 

SOURCE: VOA

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Why Millennials In Africa Are Turning To Bitcoin

There is already a case that Africa presents the perfect continent for Bitcoin to grow. One of the core arguments is that Africa already has a culture that is based on transferring money by unconventional means. Whereas Europeans and Americans may always opt to send money by bank transfer, Africans tend to favour money transfers by smartphone apps. For many millennials in Africa, they are fresh out of university and on the job market. However, the economies in many African countries present limited opportunities even for society’s most well educated and qualified professionals. Buying, investing in or trading Bitcoin is one of these lucrative avenues for millennials without a job or in need to raise more money for a better quality of life. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Navigating the Dating Scene in Nigeria

First date questions in many parts of the world usually revolve around hobbies or favorite TV shows. But in Nigeria, the first date conversation is more likely to be about your DNA than if you watch ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or where you like to vacation. Many people don’t want to waste time dating someone who carries the genes that cause sickle cell disease (SCD). The likelihood of this happening is very high in Nigeria, which has one of the highest incidences of the lifelong disease in the world. Communications specialist Damilola Ogunnupebi recently got married in Ogun State, southwest of Nigeria but paramount in her dating journey was the search for a partner with the right genotype. “Before I met my current partner, I was always on the lookout for someone whose genotype was compatible with mine. All my dates had the ‘what is your genotype?’ question,” Ogunnupebi told CNN. A genotype is the set of genes in a person’s DNA responsible for a particular trait, and genotypes are considered important in Nigerian relationships because they determine who sickle cell disease carriers are. SCD is the world’s most common hereditary blood disorder, and many people who are interested in having children, like Ogunnupebi, emphasize genotype testing to avoid giving birth to children with the disease. Sickle cell comes with excruciatingly painful complications known as a ‘sickle cell crisis’ where sudden episodes of severe pain afflict the patient’s body. Strokes, paralysis, and leg ulcers are also frequent complications.SOURCE: CNN

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Art Revives Place Where Trains Go to Die

In the heart of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, alongside seemingly abandoned train carriages and overgrown tracks is a blossoming artists’ community. Just metres from a busy road, but screened by tall trees and long grass, it is hidden in plain sight. This has been home to the Bombsquad, or BSQ, Crew for just over a year. The graffitied train carriages belong to Nairobi’s railway museum and it feels as if they were parked behind its main exhibition hall decades ago. The management agreed to rent a carriage to BSQ’s three original members last year, who turned it into a studio. But as the group has grown to include 15 artists, the work has spilled into the adjoining yard. There, on any given day, with music blaring from the small radio, artists are standing and sitting at easels or squatting over a canvas, peering closely at their work. Advertisers and musicians want to use it as backdrops and clients are commissioning large murals. SOURCE: BBC

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Keeping the Peace in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) named the security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as head of the restive Amhara region on Monday after his predecessor was killed in a violent attempt to seize power there. Dozens were killed in fighting during the foiled coup by a rogue state militia in Amhara that claimed the life of regional president Ambachew Mekonnen and other top officials. The same night, the army’s chief of staff and a retired general accompanying him were killed in the capital Addis Ababa in a related attack, the government said. The Amhara violence was the strongest challenge yet to the rule of Abiy, who has rolled out ambitious political and economic reforms in what was once one of Africa’s most repressive countries since coming to power in April 2018.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Road to Afcon Finals

Senegal reached the Africa Cup of Nations final for the second time with a Dylan Bronn own goal giving them a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Sunday in a tense last-four clash in Cairo. With 11 minutes gone in extra time, goalkeeper Mouez Hassen pushed a free-kick against the head of Bronn and the ball went backwards into the net. Tunisia thought they would have a chance to equalise when Idrissa Gueye handled in the box, but the Ethiopian referee rejected their penalty appeals after checking the incident on the VAR monitor. Both teams missed penalties in regular time with Ferjani Sassi the Tunisian culprit before Henri Saivet failed for the Senegalese. Algeria forward Riyad Mahrez’s stunning free kick in stoppage time gave Algeria a 2-1 win over Nigeria in a tense Africa Cup of Nations semi-final played in a volatile atmosphere on Sunday. It was a goal from the moment it left Mahrez’s left foot as he stepped up and bent his shot into the far corner to leave goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi helpless and send Algeria to their first final since 1990 – the only time they won the tournament.

SOURCE:  SUPERSPORT | IOL

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Nets and Losses for Africa’s Netball Teams

Malawi’s Queens won their first game in Group F, defeating Northern Ireland, 47-43. The win is Malawi’s third in a row, and the team ranked 9th in the world, have only lost one match at this year’s World Cup, their opening day loss to New Zealand. Zimbabwe’s bid for a semi-final berth suffered a setback when they lost first game in Group F to New Zealand. The match that ended 79-36 in favor of the Silver Ferns. Uganda’s She Cranes won their second game at the Netball World Cup, beating Scotland by 52-43. The win ensured the East African nation finishes second in Group A, behind hosts England. All four of Africa’s representatives at the Netball World Cup have now qualified for the next stage, where they will play for a place in the semi-finals.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Africa is the World’s Biggest Producer and Consumer of Cannabis

Cannabis has been employed in traditional African herbal medicine since time immemorial. Today, much of the world is playing catch-up. The multi-billion dollar global cannabis industry is booming as companies cite the benefits of medical marijuana for treating pain and inflammation and possibly even soothing mental illness and addictions. The global legal cannabis market could be worth $272bn by 2028, according to the 2018 European Consumer Staples Report from Barclays. The industry has the potential to make $7.1bn annually by 2023, European-based cannabis market consultancy Prohibition Partners estimates in its latest Africa Cannabis Report, but a lot of work needs to be done if it is to realise its full potential. Illegal cultivation of the plant is a key source of income for impoverished rural areas of countries such as Morocco.

SOURCES: AFRICA BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Growing Tech Incubators in Africa

Africa’s technology ecosystems have experienced “incredible growth” as they have rapidly expanded in recent years, with 618 active tech hubs providing “the backbone of Africa’s tech ecosystem,” according to the GSMA. This is a 40% leap over the 442 hubs counted last year, while this ecosystem was “mainly boosted by a torrent of venture funds, development finance, corporate involvement, as well as ever-growing, innovative communities,” it said. An active tech hub is defined as “an organisation currently active with a physical local address, offering facilities and support for tech and digital entrepreneurs” in research conducted by Briter Bridges and the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme, which identified an “innovation quadrangle” encompassed by Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya. Nigeria and South Africa are still the most advanced ecosystems, the report found, with 85 and 80 active tech hubs respectively. Lagos is now the top innovative city by number of hubs (40+), while the Western Cape, Gauteng and Durban are the core of South Africa’s tech hubs scene.

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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Why Intra-Trade in Africa is Such a Big Deal

There are almost 300 trade treaty agreements worldwide according to data from The World Bank but none are as big as the one set in motion by the African Union. The African Union has established the operational phase of an African free trade agreement on July 7 2019.  54 countries have agreed to adopt a free trade area covering the continent. Inter-country trade is exceptionally low in Africa compared with Asia and Europe, but the agreement could create $3.2-trillion in trade within the continent. After months of reluctance over competition concerns, Nigeria’s support gives weight to a 55-nation bloc worth $3.4 trillion. Intra-African trade makes up only 17% of exports, which are hampered by poor infrastructure, taxes, bureaucracy and corruption. The trade pact aims to boost cross-border trade by reducing or eliminating duties and red tape. To help lower costs, the AU launched a pan-African payment system at the summit in Niger’s capital. African exporters want the free trade area to quickly enter into force to eliminate barriers and create free movement between states. Despite the African free trade area’s launch, much work remains before the agreement becomes effective. While all of the African Union’s 55 members except Eritrea have signed on to the free trade area, only half have ratified the deal. And even after costs are reduced, Africa’s exporters still will have to contend with non-tariff barriers that will take much longer to fix — such as corruption and poor transport links between nations. 

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Top 10 Countries To Invest In Africa

Painting Africa with the same economic brush is always a mistake; the Africa Rising narrative has cooled down since growth lost momentum in some countries and investors have become more strategic with chasing investment deals. Egypt remains the most appealing for investors, according to RMB’s Where to Invest in Africa. The Arab country has stabilised its economy since the revolution and coup a few years ago. South Africa continues to be strategic for investors coming into the continent. Nigeria made a comeback into the top 10 this year helped by recovering oil prices and improved access to foreign currency. Morocco is positioning itself as the new gateway to African markets, whilst Ethiopia has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Kenya still leads investments in East Africa and is joined by Rwanda and Tanzania for their stable poltical environments. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire close off the list with opportunities in the cocoa and agricultural industries.

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Harare Considers Pulling the Plug on the Kariba South Plant

Zimbabwe has proposed reducing the flow of the Zambezi River in exchange for receiving discounted power from neighboring Mozambique. The proposal would result in the closing of Zimbabwe’s Kariba South hydro plant, which would bolster critically low water levels in the world’s biggest man-made reservoir. The plan would also limit the flow into the already full Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique, as water wouldn’t need to be pushed through the plant’s turbines. Opening the flood gates at Cahora Bassa could inundate the low-lying Zambezi Delta on Mozambique’s coast. In return for limiting the river flow, Zimbabwe would want to be compensated with cheap power from Cahora Bassa, which has the capacity to produce 2,075 megawatts. Kariba is 28.9% full, according the the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s website.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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The Northern Cape is the Future of South African Mining

After being laid off from her job as a quarry manager in South Africa, Shirley Hayes struck a deal with the owner of the nearby Blesberg mine: She would rehabilitate the abandoned site for free, and he would buy back whatever minerals she was able to extract. Fast-forward 20 years and Hayes’ company, SHiP Copper, is finalizing exploration on an 89,000-acre concession she was granted in 2009. Within two years, she plans to begin production on the first of 10 mines, which SHiP will operate using an innovative cluster mining model, bringing all ore to a central processing plant to reduce costs. The mines — which could generate up to $30 million in annual profits for around 70 years — will breathe new life into an underpopulated and overlooked region where centuries of mixed fortunes have been tied to mining. SHiP has not processed an ounce of copper yet, but already Hayes has become the darling of women’s empowerment in a male-dominated industry. Not that the glove always fits. “I am passionate about women,” she says, “but I’m even more passionate about every person who wants to go from rags to riches.”

SOURCE: OZY

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Looking into Facebook’s New Product in Africa

The most consistent and promising approach to tackling this huge obstacle to development has come with the off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo. The sector started out in East Africa built around combining the improving and increasingly cost-effective solar technology with the region’s mobile money advantage, thanks to the successful reach of Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya. Companies like Nairobi-based M-Kopa have signed up 750,000 homes in the region on the back of that payment platform which has been key for also enabling users to obtain credit and manage their payments. PayGo solar isn’t just reliant on classic mobile money solutions. In some countries it’s being used with local bank partnerships such as in Nigeria or with credit bureaus in India, for example. When it comes to demand Kenya and Uganda score high particularly when it comes to users’ “willingness to pay”, while Kenya also does well on the supply side along with Indonesia, driven by the availability of finance to support the sector.

SOURCE: BBC

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Boosting the National Energy Mix in Morocco

The Moroccan agency for sustainable energy (Masen) has opened the first stage in a tender process to build, operate and maintain a 230 megawatt solar plant near the town of Midelt in the Atlas mountains. Applications for the pre-qualification round of the Noor Midelt II project are open until September 16. Morocco plans to exceed 52 percent of renewable energy in the national energy mix by 2030. Last May, MASEN awarded Noor Midelt I, a 800 MW plant worth $781.5 million, to a consortium of France’s EDF Renewables, UAE’s Masdar and Morocco’s Green Energy of Africa. Both plants will use concentrated solar plant (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies, with a combined capacity exceeding that of the already operational 580 MW Noor Ouarzazate CSP plant in southeastern Morocco, one of the largest in the world. 

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Uber Wants to Expand its Services to Senegal’s Capital

But in a city full of taxis and drivers who don’t have smartphones, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app company will have to overcome a lot of challenges to be useful to Dakar residents and turn a profit. The city, like most African capitals, has an abundance of taxis. In most parts of the city, any time day or night, it’s easy to find a ride. But the city is rapidly expanding, and Uber says it has seen an opportunity to move in. Among the challenges Uber will face in Dakar is a lack of fixed addresses. Taxi drivers know the city inside and out and tend to navigate based on landmarks. How the app could work in a city that rarely uses map applications is a big question for some residents. Whether taxi drivers, most of whom don’t have smartphones, will be able to join Uber or compete with them, is yet to be seen. Uber has expanded to 23 cities in Africa, including Abuja, Lagos and Accra in West Africa.

SOURCE: VOA

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The French Connection in the Libyan Crisis

France has denied breaching a UN arms embargo after four of its anti-tank missiles were found on a base loyal to a rogue Libyan general. The country’s defence ministry says the “unusable” US-made Javelin missiles were never intended to be passed to any group, and were due to be destroyed. However, they were discovered in a camp south of the capital Tripoli, used by forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar. The four missiles were discovered in June when forces loyal to the UN-backed government overran the camp, prompting an investigation in Washington. France admitted the weapons – which can be used against tanks and other vehicles – belonged to them in a statement on Wednesday. “These weapons were for the protection of forces undertaking intelligence and counter-terror missions,” the defence ministry statement said. France has always denied arming Gen Haftar’s forces, but has offered diplomatic support.SOURCE: BBC

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Shining the Light on Abuse in Cairo’s Torah Prison

When former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi died after collapsing in a defendant’s cage in a Cairo courtroom this June, the world’s attention turned to the dire prison conditions in Egypt. According to a report published by an independent review panel review panel in March 2018, Morsi had been denied necessary medical attention, possibly meeting the threshold for torture in Egyptian and international law. Two weeks later, former presidential candidate and leading opposition figure, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, suffered a double heart attack in prison, where he has been since February 2018. Shortly before Aboul Fotouh suffered the heart attacks, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights and the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms submitted a petition to the Egyptian public prosecutor concerning his “deteriorating health condition” and demanded urgent intervention but he was denied adequate medical treatment. The UK-based Arab Organisation for Human Rights reports that over 700 Egyptian prisoners have died of medical negligence since 2011.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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The Namibians Asking What’s in the Meat?

Vetjaera Haakuria has brought his second-year pharmacy students from the University of Namibia to a meat market: to teach them about the interface between human and animal health. He is the country’s only specialist veterinary pharmacist. But not for long – or so he hopes. Namibians love to eat meat, but regulation is patchy and the meat being sold at markets could contain anything from antibiotics to parasites. Diseases that pass from livestock to humans are rife in the country’s rural north. Animals that die from unknown causes are eaten, no questions asked. Last year more than 50 people were hospitalised in north-western Namibia after contracting anthrax, a deadly disease that had probably entered a goat flock from infected wildlife.SOURCE:  THE GUARDIAN

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A New Ivorian Policy Highlights Ivanka Trump’s Message During Visit

Ivanka Trump is applauding the recent passage of legislation in Ivory Coast related to changes she pushed during her April trip to Africa. The country is in the process of updating its family code to make it more equitable to women. In her conversations with Ivory Coast Vice President Daniel Duncan during her visit, Ivanka Trump said, she and her team encouraged the passage of legislation to advance women’s rights and legal status, including doing away with laws that restricted women from owning or inheriting property. While the legislation proposing the changes had already been in the pipeline at the time of Ivanka Trump’s visit, her team is pointing to it as a sign of the potential impact of the global women’s initiative she championed. It aims to empower 50 million women in developing countries around the world by 2025 by providing job training and financial support and supporting legal and regulatory changes. Under the revised code, husbands and wives will have more equal say in managing household assets and making financial decisions. That’s in addition to other changes, such as new measures to ensure that widows are entitled to inheritances, additional protections against domestic violence, and setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 for both women and men.SOURCE: VOA

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Mauritius’ Role In Driving Quality Investments Into Africa

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2019, highlights the important role played by regional hubs like Mauritius in intra – regional investment flow.  FDI stock from India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and Thailand to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is almost all concentrated in Mauritius, as a gateway to other African markets.  Mauritius is the third largest destination, accounting for 16 per cent (compared with 12 per cent in 2013) of the United States FDI stock in SIDS. Mauritius is cited, in the report, as actively participating in the development of the continent through Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in various African countries.  The aim is to create an environment conducive for local operators to tap into business opportunities in these countries and develop business corridors, as well as to enhance the demand for Mauritian products and share Mauritius’ experience in zone development.   As the first African country to set up an EPZ in the 1970s, Mauritius continues to innovate in this area – most recently introducing a five-year tax holiday for companies collaborating in developing infrastructure in SEZs.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM

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Beyonce Uses One of Africa’s Widely Spoken Languages in New Song

Spirit, is part of The Lion King: The Gift album produced by the American star, and will be used as a soundtrack to Disney’s new version of the classic movie Lion King. The song’s intro features words in Kiswahili, that are saluting the king. The album which is set to be released on July 19, the date of the global release of the film, will feature the work of several African producers, according to Beyonce. ‘‘It was important that the music was not only performed by the most interesting and talented artists but also produced by the best African producers. Authenticity and heart were important to me. This love letter to Africa highlights the setting of the film, rooted in African culture and wondrous narratives, steeped in African influences from various corners of the continent, with unexpected collaborations, pulsating rhythms and crisp production that celebrate the African diaspora.”SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Boosting the National Energy Mix in Morocco

The Moroccan agency for sustainable energy (Masen) has opened the first stage in a tender process to build, operate and maintain a 230 megawatt solar plant near the town of Midelt in the Atlas mountains. Applications for the pre-qualification round of the Noor Midelt II project are open until September 16. Morocco plans to exceed 52 percent of renewable energy in the national energy mix by 2030. Last May, MASEN awarded Noor Midelt I, a 800 MW plant worth $781.5 million, to a consortium of France’s EDF Renewables, UAE’s Masdar and Morocco’s Green Energy of Africa. Both plants will use concentrated solar plant (CSP) and photovoltaic (PV) technologies, with a combined capacity exceeding that of the already operational 580 MW Noor Ouarzazate CSP plant in southeastern Morocco, one of the largest in the world.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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These Teens Just Flew their Own Plane to Cairo

Teenage pilots have achieved their goal of flying from Cape Town to Cairo in a self-made plane. It took a group of 20 teenagers 10 days to build the four-seater Sling 4 plane which landed safely in Cairo on Monday. Six young pilots were a part of the journey which aimed to inspire youth across the world to chase their dreams, and not be limited by their past. Seventeen-year-old pilot Megan Werner, founder of the U-Dream Global project, said: “I wanted to do something bigger that will inspire people around the world. I’ve got a huge love for aviation because my mom is an aircraft engineer instructor and my dad is an airline pilot. When I heard about the initiative… I thought how about having 20 teenagers building a plane and then we fly it across Africa,” she said. It was no easy feat, as the group encountered multiple challenges en route to Cairo.SOURCE: EWN

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The Untold Stories of Mermaids in Africa

A wealth of examples can be found in “The Annotated African American Folktales,” which was published in November 2017 by African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar. It’s a groundbreaking, 600-page compilation of black myths and legends, considered the most comprehensive and ambitious collection of black folklore ever published in American literary history, with dozens of tales rarely read before. There’s the age-old African mermaid legend known as Mami Wata (Mother Water), but it’s a folktale that remains mostly unrecognized and unexplored. Just as Disney borrowed a Danish fairy tale as the basis for their Ariel, the studio could just have easily done the same with a popular African legend as the basis for a live-action Disney film about a mermaid. It’s arguable that most Americans are unaware of the rich mythology that has long existed within the global African diaspora. It’s a lesson that Disney could stand to learn.

SOURCE: INDIEWIRE | WASHINGTON POST

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Football Fans Have a Go at Each Other Ahead of Afcon Clash

Long before kickoff in Wednesday’s quarter-final matches at the African Nations Cup, fans of Nigeria and South Africa are already at it. Off the pitch, the two countries compete for the claim to be the continent’s economic super power, but they now seem to be building up a football rivalry and because this is 2019, the conflict is getting additional fuel from social media. On Twitter, competing fans are poking fun at each other: one South Africa TV channel has dubbed the Nigerian team the “Super Egos” whilst Nigerian fans re-christening the other team, renaming Bafana Bafana as “banana banana”. Nigeria dispatched old foes Cameroon while South Africa knocked-out hosts Egypt, to set up the last eight encounter. Incidentally, both sides were drawn in the same qualifying group. South Africa shocked Nigeria with a 2-0 away win but they drew 1-1 in Johannesburg. But when it comes to clashes at Afcon finals, it’s the Super Eagles who have the upper hand. They have beaten South Africa twice – in 2000 and 2004.SOURCE: THE SOUTH AFRICAN

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Egypt Goes after Christie’s for Auction of Its Relic

The country has instructed a law firm in the UK to file a civil suit over the sale last week of a Tutankhamun bust. The sculpture of the pharaoh was bought for $6m at Christie’s auction house in London, despite Egypt warning it was probably stolen in the 1970s. Christie’s said all necessary checks were made over the bust’s provenance, and that its sale was legal and valid. It stated that Germany’s Prince Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis reputedly had it in his collection by the 1960s, and that it was acquired by an Austrian dealer in 1973-4. The Egyptian National Committee for Antiquities Repatriation expressed its “deep discontent of the unprofessional way in which the Egyptian artefacts were sold without the provision of the ownership documents and proof that that the artefacts left Egypt in a legitimate manner”. The 3,000-year-old, brown quartzite bust was part of a statue of the God Amun, the most important deity of the New Kingdom, according to Christie’s. The auction house said the facial features were the same as those of the young pharaoh, who ruled between 1333 and 1323BC.SOURCE: BBC

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Addis Ababa Joins Growing List of African Cities Banning Motorcycles

Explaining the ban, which took effect on 7 July, Addis mayor Takele Uma said it was designed to curb crime. Takele said the Ethiopian city had found that an unusually high number of violent crimes were committed using motorcycles. The ban does not affect “those conducting licensed businesses with motorcycles and those who use motorcycles as postal carriers and motorcycles used by diplomatic missions”. For commuters in Addis Ababa, the ban adds to the transportation problems the capital already suffers. Africa’s second-most populous country is also one of the least motorised countries in the world – the number of cars in the country of 100 million people is estimated at fewer than 1m, most of them in the capital. The country only produces 8,000 commercial and private vehicles a year, which does not satisfy demand. Known as boda boda in East Africa, okada in Nigeria and taxi-motos in francophone Africa, informal motorcycle taxis have taken up the slack from strained or non-existent public transport systems as urban populations grow. A nifty solution for Africans on the move, they represent a new headache for city administrators.SOURCE: THE AFRICA REPORT

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Time To Completely Ban Canned Lion Hunting In Africa

The lion population is dropping rapidly throughout Africa. A century ago, around 200,000 lions roamed the continent, and now there are a mere 25,000 left. At this rate by 2119, there may be none left. About 200 facilities across South Africa breed lions for canned hunting, and as many as 6,000 lions are stockpiled for hunters. South Africa is considered the top destination for canned lion hunting and international animal welfare organization, Network for Animals (NFA), has urgently called for South African decision makers to address the legislative gaps around this cruel practice. Canned lion hunting is illegal in South Africa, but captive-bred lion hunting is allowed. Lions are bred in captivity and held in small enclosures until they are shot and killed.  NFA’s chief campaigner David Barritt said there was a fine line between the two – and regulations differ by province, creating confusion that canned lion hunters take advantage of.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM

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Satellite Images of How African Cities have Grown

The head of the new cities lab at McGill University has documented more than 100 cities that have sprung up across Asia and Africa since the early 2000s for her forthcoming Atlas of New Cities. There’s Eko Atlantic, a “new Dubai” taking shape on reclaimed land off the coast of Nigeria, and Forest City, a “new Singapore” being built just over the Johor Strait from the original. There’s the New Silk Road city of Khorgos rising from the barren steppe that separates Kazakhstan and China, the “sustainable city” of Neom in Saudi Arabia, the Norman Foster-designed Masdar in Abu Dhabi, a few in Latin America … and even a Robotic New City in Malaysia. The city of New Cairo – in the desert 20 miles to the east of its namesake – was conceived in the late 1990s and established by presidential decree in 2000. Not to be confused with the as-yet-unnamed new administrative capital proposed by president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in 2014 (another 20 miles east and dubbed the “new New Cairo”), the original New Cairo was meant to attract a population of 5 million. A few hundred-thousand currently call it home.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Lakin Ogunbanwo’s Series Captures Nigerian Weddings

Ogunbanwo, who is from Lagos, said. Through this series, which means “come look at me,” the photographer reflects on the nuance of identity — that of the brides and his home country. The exhibit was recently on view at the Whatiftheworld gallery in Cape Town. Weddings in Nigeria have swelled into a thriving industry, with massive guest lists and color-coordinated wedding parties. A wedding is “very loud, very grand, and it’s a huge celebration,” where families and communities come together, Ogunbanwo said. Often there are two ceremonies, one with more traditional attire and ceremonies, and another more akin to Western nuptials. Ogunbanwo points out that all of the ceremonial pomp reinforces an expectation of femininity, one that supersedes the brides’ individuality. And while the women in Ogunbanwo’s portraits are feminine, they are also self-possessed, idiosyncratic, and queenly. The photographer looked to Renaissance-era paintings of royal women for inspiration in mood, gesture, and lighting.SOURCE: CNN

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The Rains Bring a Deadly Disease to Nigeria’s Crops

Nigeria’s 2019-20 cocoa crop is threatened by an attack of the fungal black-pod disease due to the wetness created by persistent rains in the main cocoa-growing areas. The disease makes pods shrivel and trees wither, and has been reported in most farms in the southeastern cocoa belt around the cocoa-trading center. This region accounts for about 30% of Nigeria’s cocoa, with the rest coming from the southwest, the main growing area, with Akure as its main trading hub. Nigeria is the world’s fifth-biggest producer of cocoa with output estimated at 245,000 tons for the 2018-19 season by the International Cocoa Organization. The country’s cocoa season comprises the main crop harvested from October to March and the smaller midcrop that runs from April to June.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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The Northern Cape is the Future of South African Mining

After being laid off from her job as a quarry manager in South Africa, Shirley Hayes struck a deal with the owner of the nearby Blesberg mine: She would rehabilitate the abandoned site for free, and he would buy back whatever minerals she was able to extract. Fast-forward 20 years and Hayes’ company, SHiP Copper, is finalizing exploration on an 89,000-acre concession she was granted in 2009. Within two years, she plans to begin production on the first of 10 mines, which SHiP will operate using an innovative cluster mining model, bringing all ore to a central processing plant to reduce costs. The mines — which could generate up to $30 million in annual profits for around 70 years — will breathe new life into an underpopulated and overlooked region where centuries of mixed fortunes have been tied to mining. SHiP has not processed an ounce of copper yet, but already Hayes has become the darling of women’s empowerment in a male-dominated industry. Not that the glove always fits. “I am passionate about women,” she says, “but I’m even more passionate about every person who wants to go from rags to riches.”SOURCE: OZY

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Lessons Sudan Can Learn from Egypt

In this episode of Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’, Sudanese and Egyptian activists to break down the similarities, and differences, between their respective revolutions. A path to democracy could now exist in Sudan after a power-sharing agreement was reached on Friday between the ruling Transitional Military Council and opposition leaders. The deal was welcomed as progress by both sides. Some pro-democracy activists, though, remain sceptical of the military’s intentions, drawing comparisons to the 2011 Egyptian revolution in which the late Mohamed Morsi – that country’s first democratically-elected president – was overthrown in a coup. Some Sudanese activists view the outcome of the Egyptian uprising as a cautionary tale, and many protesters in the streets of Khartoum chanted “Victory or Egypt” after the removal of longtime President Omar al-Bashir.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Africa Launches the World’s Largest Free Trade Zone

After months of reluctance over competition concerns, Nigeria’s support gives weight to a 55-nation bloc worth $3.4 trillion. Intra-African trade makes up only 17% of exports, which are hampered by poor infrastructure, taxes, bureaucracy and corruption. The trade pact aims to boost cross-border trade by reducing or eliminating duties and red tape. To help lower costs, the AU launched a pan-African payment system at the summit in Niger’s capital. African exporters want the free trade area to quickly enter into force to eliminate barriers and create free movement between states. Despite the African free trade area’s launch, much work remains before the agreement becomes effective. While all of the African Union’s 55 members except Eritrea have signed on to the free trade area, only half have ratified the deal. And even after costs are reduced, Africa’s exporters still will have to contend with non-tariff barriers that will take much longer to fix — such as corruption and poor transport links between nations. SOURCE: VOA

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Covering the Congo Beat

Pierre Mambele was never credited with telling the story of Congo’s never-ending crises. But the news would often have gone unheard without him. For successive Reuters reporters in Kinshasa and for other journalists flying in to cover the latest calamity, Mambele was a driver, a guide, a fearless protector and – above all – a loyal friend. He died on June 8, aged 74. An institution for foreign media, Mambele played a unique part in shaping coverage from the Democratic Republic of Congo, starting under the rule of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko when the country was known as Zaire. Mambele epitomised those unseen drivers, fixers and translators whose work – often at personal risk – is critical to reporting the news from the toughest places on earth. When Mambele became a driver in 1974, the country was enjoying a rare high. Zaire had won Africa’s soccer cup and was hosting The Rumble in the Jungle – a historic boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. Reuters describes Mambele as much more than a driver. He always kept an ear out for breaking news and for nuggets of truth in Kinshasa’s endless rumours. Mambele never hesitated to suggest ideas for stories he thought needed telling and the best people to speak to.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Top 10 Countries To Invest In Africa

Painting Africa with the same economic brush is always a mistake; the Africa Rising narrative has cooled down since growth lost momentum in some countries and investors have become more strategic with chasing investment deals. Egypt remains the most appealing for investors, according to RMB’s Where to Invest in Africa. The Arab country has stabilised its economy since the revolution and coup a few years ago. South Africa continues to be strategic for investors coming into the continent. Nigeria made a comeback into the top 10 this year helped by recovering oil prices and improved access to foreign currency. Morocco is positioning itself as the new gateway to African markets, whilst Ethiopia has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Kenya still leads investments in East Africa and is joined by Rwanda and Tanzania for their stable poltical environments. Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire close off the list with opportunities in the cocoa and agricultural industries.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Tributes Pour in for South African Boy Who was Destined for Space Academy

“I’m a future generation astronaut, qualified private pilot, a CO in the SA Air Force and a public speaker.” This is what Mandla Maseko’s Instagram biography reads. Maseko, who beat a million people to win a sub-orbital trip that could have seen him become the first black African in space, was killed in a motorcycle accident on Saturday. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, SA’s “Space Boy” shared his life with his social media followers, who continue to convey messages of love and support to his family. Those who claim to have known him personally have described him as a loving and kind person. Seven weeks ago, he shared three posts, in which he vowed to abide by the constitution, respect people and their rights, and treat them with dignity. SOURCE: TIMES LIVE

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Ifrah Ahmed Refuses to Let the FGM She Suffered at 8 Define Her

“I don’t want to be a victim. I want to be a voice,” says the 32-year-old campaigner. She is one of the first women to publicly speak out about female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia – a country where it is estimated that 98% of women have undergone the ritual – and now her journey from powerless victim to powerful role model has been dramatised in a film. A Girl from Mogadishu has just had its UK premiere at the Edinburgh film festival and will be released across the UK in cinemas later this year. In the first 10 minutes it shows Aja Naomi King, who plays Ahmed as a 15-year-old girl, being violently gang-raped by Somali militants. After that, she makes the dangerous journey from Somalia to Ireland to seek asylum, too scared to question anything her male smugglers want her to do. Upon her arrival, a male gynaecologist examines her and tries to find out what has happened to her, but she has no words to explain it to the male translator, just tears. But then, about halfway through, with the help of other women, she starts to find her voice. By the end of the film, she is shouting about FGM in front of Barack Obama, making speeches at the United Nations and being praised by the president of Somalia.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Ex DRC General Convicted after Decade Long Trial

The International Criminal Court has convicted Congolese former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, dubbed the “Terminator”, as guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ntaganda, 45, has been charged with overseeing the slaughter of civilians by his soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region in 2002 and 2003. His sentence will be determined at a later hearing. Prosecutors gave horrific details of victims including some who were disembowelled and had their throats slit, as part of the evidence during his three-year trial in The Hague. Ntaganda had faced 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity for his role in the brutal conflict that wracked the northeastern region. Prosecutors portrayed him as the ruthless leader of ethnic Tutsi revolts amid the wars that wracked the Democratic Republic of Congo after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda. The soft-spoken Ntaganda told judges during his trial that he was a “soldier not a criminal” and that the “Terminator” nickname did not apply to him.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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Kenyans Agitated by NYT’s Bureau Chief Post

New York Times international editor Michael Slackman has owned up to approving a job advert for an Nairobi Bureau Chief that was full of cliched descriptions of the continent. It talked about reporting from “the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania”. The advert attracted criticism and mockery.The job ad triggered hundreds of tweets, comments and even hilarious but poignant skits. One of the most popular, and to which NYT’s international editor eventually responded, was a spoken word skit by three poets: Anne Moraa, Aleya Kassam, and Laura Ekumbo. In a Twitter thread, Mr Slackman said the advert was the result of taking a short cut, where he just approved the text of a job description from 18 months ago. Addressing the criticism that the advert reflected the New York Times’ view of the continent, the paper’s international editor said it was “committed to covering Africa, not as if it were some stereotype, but because it matters”.SOURCE:  THE AFRICA REPORT

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Sudan Army to Go Back to their Barracks

Sudan’s top general says the military council that assumed power after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in April will be dissolved with the implementation of a power-sharing deal reached with protesters last week. The military and a pro-democracy coalition agreed last week on a joint sovereign council that will rule for a little over three years while elections are organized. Both sides say a diplomatic push by the U.S. and its Arab allies was key to ending a weekslong standoff that raised fears of all-out civil war. The council will include five civilians representing the protest movement and five military members. An 11th seat will go to a civilian chosen by both sides. The protesters will select a Cabinet of technocrats, and a legislative council is to be formed after three months. As part of the power-sharing agreement, the two sides agreed on an independent Sudanese investigation into the deadly crackdown, but the details have yet to be worked out.SOURCE: VOA

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Debates Over Another Path to the ‘Roof of Africa’

Tanzania’s environment and tourism ministers are at loggerheads over a plan to put a cable car on Mount Kilimanjaro. The scheme was announced in April by tourism minister Hamisi Kigwangalla as a way of boosting visitor numbers to Africa’s tallest mountain. Feasibility studies are under way for the project driven by the tourism ministry. A Chinese and a Western company have reportedly expressed interest. About 50,000 people climb the nearly 6,000m mountain every year. The tourism ministry hopes a cable car would attract those unable to climb the fabled peak and boost visitor numbers by 50%. Tourism is a major revenue earner for Tanzania, home not just to the storied mountain but to Serengeti National Park, among other natural wonders. The cable car project has been fiercely opposed by porters associations, who fear it will destroy their livelihoods.SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Towing an Iceberg to Cape Town

Emirati businessman, Abdulla Alshehi, wants to tow an iceberg from Antarctica to the Arabian Gulf to supply the United Arab Emirates with drinkable water. However, he plans to trial a test case of the project’s viability by dragging a smaller iceberg with a tugboat to either Cape Town, or Perth in Australia. The iceberg could measure two kilometres by 500 metres, he said. Speaking to Euronews, Alshehi said that the preliminary test is expected to cost between $60-80 million with the entire project expected to cost the UAE between $100-150 million dollars. “It will be cheaper to bring in these icebergs and utilise them for freshwater rather than utilising the desalination water,” he said. “Because desalination plants require a huge amount of capital investments.”SOURCE: BUSINESSTECH

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What Lies in Store at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

It’s the last two games of the last 16 at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, it’s Mali against Ivory Coast and Tunisa vs Ghana. Two more teams from these fixtures have a chance to book their place in the quarterfinals of a tournament that has delivered bags of upsets. Nigeria dumped title-defenders Cameroon out while South Africa booted Egypt out of their own competition. Extra time and penalties await should teams go to a stalemate after 90 minutes. And we’ve already had our first shootout where underdogs Benin knocked title-hopefuls Morocco out of the competition. Madagascar and Algeria also booked their spot in the next round of knockouts.SOURCE: THE SOUTH AFRICAN

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Kenya Safari Rally to Reclaim its Status in World Rally Map

Kenya Safari Rally 2019 was over the weekend flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Moi Kasarani Stadium. This  comes after Kenya has been out of world rally championship map for almost two decades. Kenya is seeking to regain its long-lost glory in the world competition. The  Kenya Motor Sports Federation Chairman, Phineas Kimathi lauded the President for delivering on his manifesto of supporting motorsport, thanking the president for donating to the motor sport. Baldev  Chager, a long-time rally driver said that the he has prepared well for the event and he hoped to perform well, “Am not worried. Am hoping that my long experience will count.” The Premium Class rally driver, Eric  Bengi warned that the competition terrain is tricky and race drivers should be extra cautious so as to come out with good results. “It is my childhood dream to feature in this event,’’ he added.SOURCE: KENYA NEWS

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Africa.com Interviews Grey Jabesi on Cryptocurrency and Blockchain In Africa

Grey Jabesi is a 24-year-old African entrepreneur, blockchain enthusiast, cryptocurrency evangelist, analyst and investor. He an autodidact who maintains the company of some of the best minds in business and tech, he takes a practical approach to knowledge and experience building, always with a focus on developing the best possible solutions. Recently, Jabesi was inducted as new Director of Marketing for The Blockchain Association of Africa and is based in Cape Town. He spoke to Africa.com and when asked about the role of crypto currencies and block chain in Africa, he said: “The current state of the world is status and permission based. There are always hierarchies who call shots and your fate can easily be determined by them. A good example of this is “sanctions”, someone has the power to kick you out of the economic arena. Africans are already victims to this, the majority are unbanked or do not have the resources to be identified as “people” in the current economic system. The peer to peer nature of cryptocurrencies empowers everyone including Africans to participate in the economic activity without needing a central authority, for example, banks. This does not only allow them to do business at a local level, but at a global level as well. One can create a product or service and sell it to the entire world, online and get paid instantly and frictionless.”

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Full Steam Ahead on Ethiopia’s Recovery Plans

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has vowed to continue opening up the economy and country, despite a recent coup attempt triggered by his ambitious reform agenda. Ethiopia’s prime minister inherited an economy that boasted the fastest growth rates in Africa and one of the fastest growing non-oil economies in the world. Since assuming power in April 2018 he has sought to tackle the country’s growing debt burden and currency crisis, by renegotiating loans and seeking financial support from external partners in the Gulf and the west, including $3bn in loans and investment from the UAE.  Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow at Chatham House’s Africa Programme focused on the Horn of Africa, says that the attacks have strengthened Abiy’s resolve to pursue domestic security reforms, end inter-ethnic violence, and secure the integrity of the upcoming 2020 elections. He adds that there is likely to be a continuation of Abiy’s policies of private-sector led liberalisation and the courting of new investment.

SOURCES: AFRICA BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Forbes Africa on Keeping Up with Nigeria’s Power Couple

Chief Razak Okoya is an industrialist who has managed to transform a small trading company into one of the largest conglomerates and indigenous manufacturers of household products in Nigeria. As founder of Eleganza Group and leading property investment company RAO Property, he employs about 5000 people across Nigeria. In his interview with Forbes Africa, he discusses the trends that will influence the competitive Nigerian Manufacturing sector in the next decade. Chief Mrs. Folashade Okoya has been at the helm of affairs of the Eleganza Group and RAO Property Investment for the past decade using her strong entrepreneurial drive to further strengthen the goodwill of both organizations and its corporate positioning in Nigeria. Under her watch, Eleganza Group has risen to new heights strengthening its position as a leading indigenous brand in Nigeria as well as one of the benchmark manufacturing companies in the country. She talks about the stigma of women in manufacturing and the need for greater automation in the manufacturing process in Nigeria.

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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A Pioneering Businessman who Drove Kenya’s Mobile Money Revolution

Bob Collymore, the head of east Africa’s biggest telecoms company, Safaricom, and a pioneer of mobile money, said the ultimate purpose of his business was “transforming lives”. In doing so, he helped inspire a generation of corporate leaders to think bigger. The British chief executive, who has died aged 61 after a long battle with cancer, led Kenya’s largest mobile operator through a period of rapid growth, turning Safaricom into east Africa’s most profitable business. Under his leadership since 2010, the company’s revolutionary mobile money service, M-Pesa, evolved from a fledgling peer to peer transfer system to become the backbone of the country’s digital economy, used by two in every five Kenyans. The desire to engage with everyone from Kenya’s president to the poorest motorbike taxi driver was key to Collymore’s understanding of the potential of digital services, says longtime friend, Aly-Khan Satchu, a Nairobi-based investment adviser. Not everything succeeded. The company’s hyped e-commerce platform Masoko, for example, failed to meet expectations. But Collymore was willing to fail in his pursuit of success. An avid reader, saxophone player, jazz enthusiast and a collector of African art, Collymore was a vocal champion of the fight against corruption in Kenya, a member of Richard Branson’s B-Team initiative of global leaders, and a patron of the arts. He created the Safaricom International Jazz Festival and the Safaricom Youth Orchestra and supported his Kenyan wife, artist Wambui Kamiru, as she built up The Art Space, a Nairobi gallery.

SOURCE: FINANCIAL TIMES | AFRICA NEWS

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West Africa Adopts a Single Currency

As part of its plans to make Africa a more integrated continent, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted the name ‘ECO’ for a planned single currency to be used in the region. The 15 member group announced at the end of an ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Saturday. Six member countries, including Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana, could be swapping their currencies for a new one – the ECO. Eight ECOWAS countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) currently jointly use the CFA franc. Originally intended to be launched in 2000, the ECO has been postponed multiple times, and the newest target date is 2020. ECOWAS will be working with the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA), the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI) and central banks to speed up the implementation of a new road map for the proposed single trade currency. ECO is supposed to boost economic development in the West African region and improve cross border trade. Once implemented, countries across the region will be able to move and spend money across different countries without worrying about exchange rate costs. 

SOURCE: CNN

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African Traders to Benefit from Preferential Trading Arrangements Offered by the AfCFTA

The African Union plans to launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on July 7 in Niamey, Niger. African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat termed the event as a remarkable and historic achievement. The AU said that a decision on the location of the secretariat of the AfCFTA is also expected to be made. The secretariat’s primary mandate will be the implementation the agreement. Seven countries have submitted bids to host the secretariat. They are: Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal. The AU’s Executive Council will elect four board members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption and prepare the draft agenda and decisions for the 12th Extraordinary Assembly that will launch the AfCFTA.

SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

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East African Citizen Groups Sue Uganda and Rwanda

Three civil society groups, on behalf of communities along the border, said they had filed a complaint with the East African Court of Justice demanding reparations from Uganda and Rwanda for their losses. Trade has been severely disrupted since late February when Rwanda abruptly closed the border with its northern neighbour, severing a major economic land route used daily by merchants and business people on both sides. The closure followed months of rising acrimony between Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, former allies turned foes who have exchanged public accusations of spying in each other’s territory. Apart from a brief interlude in June the frontier has remained shut, damaging the local economies of both countries reliant on cross-border trade to survive. The court, in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, was set up to rule on matters of the East African Community, a six-member bloc including Rwanda and Uganda, as well as Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan.

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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How to Solve Africa’s Electricity Woes

The most consistent and promising approach to tackling this huge obstacle to development has come with the off-grid pay-as-you-go solar power model, now called PayGo. The sector started out in East Africa built around combining the improving and increasingly cost-effective solar technology with the region’s mobile money advantage, thanks to the successful reach of Safaricom’s M-Pesa in Kenya. Companies like Nairobi-based M-Kopa have signed up 750,000 homes in the region on the back of that payment platform which has been key for also enabling users to obtain credit and manage their payments. PayGo solar isn’t just reliant on classic mobile money solutions. In some countries it’s being used with local bank partnerships such as in Nigeria or with credit bureaus in India, for example. When it comes to demand Kenya and Uganda score high particularly when it comes to users’ “willingness to pay”, while Kenya also does well on the supply side along with Indonesia, driven by the availability of finance to support the sector.

SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Brewed in Zimbabwe a Hit on the Market

A long-time Zimbabwean coffee grower, David Muganyura almost gave up on the crop when prices slumped to as low as U.S. 20 cents a pound at the turn of the millennium, and foreign buyers took flight after land seizures drove out more than 120 white commercial coffee farmers under the banner of post-colonial reform. But with companies like Nestle’s Nespresso arm now willing to pay a premium for Zimbabwe’s beans, small-scale farmers like Muganyura are returning to a sector that was all-but destroyed under former President Robert Mugabe. Coffee output in Zimbabwe was 430 tonnes in 2018, a 10% increase over the previous year. This year production is set at 500 tonnes, according to industry officials. Zimbabwe was never among the world’s top producers: output peaked at around 15,000 tonnes in the late 1990s. But its Arabica coffee is prized for its zesty and fruity tones, and the sector once provided a livelihood for more than 20,000 poor farmers. Nespresso, which started buying Zimbabwean coffee last year at a 30%-40% premium above international prices and pays farmers in U.S. dollars, is helping to drive the modest revival. Its limited edition “Tamuka muZimbabwe” (“We Have Awakened in Zimbabwe”) coffee, launched in 16 countries in May, sold out in three weeks. 

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Trouble at Africa’s Biggest Fund

The Public Investment Corp. is the behemoth of Africa’s fund managers, overseeing $150 billion in pension assets for more than 1 million South African state workers. While the PIC, as it’s widely known, was long heralded for delivering market-beating returns, its reputation has been scarred by accusations that it made questionable investment decisions and didn’t follow proper procedures. An official inquiry into how the fund manager is run has starkly highlighted its management shortcomings. Witnesses have told the commission how processes were routinely flouted, polices were breached and questionable investments were made by senior managers. They included the purchase of bonds issued by cash-strapped state power producer Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. and a stake in Ayo Technology Solutions Ltd. that valued the little-known technology company at 50 times what its assets were estimated to be worth. There’s been no conclusive evidence that PIC officials directly benefited from their actions, although several of them were alleged to have been closely linked to executives at companies in which the PIC bought stakes.

SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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Somali Refugee Switches Up Your Image of a UK Politician

Magid Magid made quite an impression as he arrived for his first day at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt bearing an anti-fascist slogan, the newly elected MEP said he was asked to leave the building. While the European Parliament said no member of staff was involved, Mr Magid – one of six MEPs for Yorkshire and the Humber – said the incident “says a lot about what people think the stereotypical politician is meant to look like”. And it’s hard to argue he doesn’t have a point – of the new European Parliament’s 751 members, less than a dozen are black. From his eye-catching style – Dr Martens and baseball caps coupled with the 18-carat gold chain of office – to his back story – the Somali refugee who came to the UK aged five – he was nothing like the stereotypical image of a Lord Mayor. During his 12 months in office he hit the headlines time and again, most notably for “banning” US President Donald Trump from Sheffield. Born in Burao, in northern Somalia, Mr Magid and his family left the war-torn country in 1994 in search of “a better life”. After six months in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, the family – his mother and five older siblings – settled in Burngreave in Sheffield.SOURCE: BBC

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Boeing to Compensate Families Affected by Plane Crashes

Boeing Co said it would give $100 million over multiple years to local governments and non-profit organizations to help families and communities affected by the deadly crashes of its 737 MAX planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The move appears to be a step toward repairing the image of the world’s largest planemaker, which has been severely dented by the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane in March just five months after a similar crash of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia. The two crashes killed a total of 346 people. The multiyear payout is independent of the lawsuits and would have no impact on litigation, a Boeing spokesman said. The $100 million, which is less than the list price of a 737 MAX 8, is meant to help with education and living expenses and to spur economic development in affected communities, Boeing said. It did not specify which authorities or organizations would receive the money. Many of the passengers on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight were aid workers or involved with health, food, or environmental programs. The families of victims of an Ethiopian air disaster on Thursday criticised Boeing’s plan to donate $100m to unspecified charities and communities affected by two crashes, saying it was too vague and that families should have been consulted first.SOURCE: CNBC AFRICA | BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Dangers Facing Desperate Migrants in Libya

Migrants who survived the deadly airstrike on a Libyan detention center said they had been conscripted by a local militia to work in an adjacent weapons workshop. The decision to store weapons at the facility in Tajoura, to the east of Tripoli, may have made it a target for the self-styled Libyan National Army, which is at war with an array of militias allied with a weak, U.N.-recognized government in the capital. The Tripoli government has blamed Wednesday’s pre-dawn strike, which killed at least 44 migrants and wounded more than 130, on the LNA and its foreign backers. The LNA, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, says it targeted a nearby militia position but denies striking the hangar where the migrants were being held. The U.N. and aid groups have meanwhile blamed the tragedy in part on the European Union’s policy of partnering with Libyan militias to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean Sea to seek a better life in Europe. Critics of the policy say it leaves migrants at the mercy of brutal traffickers or confined in detention facilities near the front lines that often lack adequate food and water. The dangers facing desperate migrants were highlighted further Thursday as the U.N.’s migration agency reported that a boat carrying 86 migrants from Libya sank in the Mediterranean Sea overnight and only three people were confirmed as survivors.SOURCE:  WASHINGTON POST

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Was Sierra Leone’s One-month Fishing Ban Enough To Replenish Fish Stocks?

The Sierra Leone government closed the country’s waters to fishing during the entire month of April to give flagging fish stocks a chance to rebuild. During that period industrial fishing companies were not allowed to fish, but artisanal fishers were. Both industrial and artisanal fishers appeared to support the closure, the first of its kind, amid declining catches and an influx of virtually unregulated foreign fishing vessels that locals complain are wiping out fish stocks and putting them out of business. Officials declared the closure a success, as part of Sierra Leone’s broader effort to formalize and gain regulatory control of its fisheries. However, outside experts have expressed doubt that the move would do much to improve the country’s fisheries. Government is now taking a suite of measures beyond the one-month closure to ensure the country’s enormous fisheries potential is fully harnessed. Among them will be pushing for co-management of the country’s fisheries by stakeholders from industry, government and civil society; improving the reliability of data to enhance marine resource management; registering artisanal fishing boats; and appointing a national master fisherman to handle the affairs of fisherfolk. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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A Day in the Life of Ethiopia’s Rain Man

Doyte lives in South Omo, Ethiopia, one of the most remote areas in the world and hard hit by the climate crisis. As Lord of the Rain, it’s Doyte’s job to summon the rains, but for five years they haven’t come. Ethiopia’s economy is booming, fuelled by green power and climate-resilient policies. But neither the government, nor Doyte, can reverse the catastrophic change that’s devastating their environment. In this video the Lord of the Rain shows how dire the situation has become.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Back to the Drawing Board in Khartoum

Sudan’s protest leaders have agreed to hold direct talks with the country’s ruling generals after African Union and Ethiopian mediators called on the two sides to resume stalled negotiations to form a new governing body. Negotiations between the two sides collapsed in May over the make-up of the governing body and who should lead it — a civilian or a soldier. Tensions further soared after a brutal crackdown on a longstanding protest camp in Khartoum killed dozens of demonstrators exactly a month ago. The ruling military council that seized power after the army’s ouster of Bashir has still not responded to the plea for talks by the mediators. Protest leaders have been supported by Western nations in their call for civilian rule, while the generals appear to have backing of Arab allies like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, experts say. The mass protest had been seen as a test for the protest leaders’ ability to mobilise the crowds after the generals imposed a widespread internet blackout and deployed security forces in the capital’s key squares and districts, its twin city Omdurman and other towns and villages.SOURCE: VOA

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African Traders to Benefit from Preferential Trading Arrangements Offered by the AfCFTA

The African Union plans to launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on July 7 in Niamey, Niger. African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat termed the event as a remarkable and historic achievement. The AU said that a decision on the location of the secretariat of the AfCFTA is also expected to be made. The secretariat’s primary mandate will be the implementation the agreement. Seven countries have submitted bids to host the secretariat. They are: Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal. The AU’s Executive Council will elect four board members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption and prepare the draft agenda and decisions for the 12th Extraordinary Assembly that will launch the AfCFTA.SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

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Justice Served for Garissa Victims

A Kenyan court sentenced three men to long prison sentences on Wednesday for assisting al-Shabab fighters who attacked a university and killed 148 students and staff in 2015. Tanzanian national Rashid Charles Mberesero was given life imprisonment while Kenyans Mohammed Abikar and Hassan Edin Hassan were jailed for 41 years each. Judge Francis Andayi said the three were members of the Somalia-based armed group who planned and executed the Garissa University attack. Four fighters entered the institution in Garissa, a county bordering Somalia, on the morning of April 2, 2015, and opened fire with automatic weapons.  Wednesday’s sentences were a warning to anyone thinking of providing any kind of help to al-Shabaab, said Tabitha Mwangi, head of the security programme at Nairobi’s Centre for International and Security Affairs.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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A Satirical Look at the State of Football in Africa

East and southern Africa were the biggest losers after the first 12 days of action in Egypt. The two blocs had three teams sent packing from the competition for failure to justify their inclusion – very much like not paying their dues. CAF must have written to them and asked them to pack out of the plush hotels, “we cannot continue to spend on teams that cannot even manage a respectable third position, please be gone,” the letter may have said – you never know. So East Africa went with four slots and three are headed back – to Dar es Salaam, Gitega and Nairobi. For accountability purposes, there must be a probe as to how the east failed and by so doing put all its eggs in the Ugandan basket – maybe because only Cranes lay eggs. Football is both a rallying point and a distraction for different people across Africa. But for many, it perhaps is more the former than the latter. The fervor allows reprieve of sorts for the political crisis in Burundi, the widely reported human rights crackdown in Egypt and even the security crisis bedeviling Mali. It is more so because even in countries whose teams are not in Egypt, people are gripped with the fever. On a purely satirical level, social media users drew parallels with political events – past, present – with incidents on the Egyptian fields.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Take a Trip to Nigeria’s Port City

Port Harcourt is the capital and largest city of the Rivers State in Nigeria, and lies along the Bonny River.  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Port Harcourt is one of Nigeria’s driving industrial centres known for their manufacturing of aluminium products, glass bottles and paper. Just an hour flight from Lagos, the city was built in 1912 and named after the Secretary of State for the Colonies Lewis Vernon Harcourt.  Travellers to this part of the country will find lots to occupy their time. Among the places to add to your bucket list includes the Rivers State Cultural Centrer, Isaac Boro Garden Park, Port Harcourt Tourist Beach and Mile One Market. There are plenty for places for foodies, too. Try their roasted bole and fish – one of the city’s delicacies  – or their famous pepper soup served with a yam. SOURCE: IOL TRAVEL

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How Trevor Noah Captivated a US Audience

When Trevor Noah took the reins of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, critics wondered whether he could live up to the reputation of his scathing satirist predecessor, Jon Stewart. Four years later, the question facing the South African comedian is much bigger: not whether he can survive in America, but whether his brand can conquer the world. Don’t believe it? Just consider that Noah, 35, with his made-for-television childhood (literally, now that his best-selling memoir Born a Crime is receiving a film adaptation), gives him a truly global perspective that none of his late-night contemporaries can match. Noah, the last Black man standing on late night at the major networks, stands out. And he’s gone from doubted to lauded — from the pages of Time magazine, which named him one of the most 100 influential people in the world last year, to The Hollywood Reporter, which placed him among the 35 most powerful people in New York media the last two years. In April, Comedy Central reported that The Daily Show was tied for the 2019 late-night talk show lead among men ages 18–34 — and generating a weekly average reach of 56 million video views on social media. Heady stuff for the Johannesburg native who not long ago performed stand-ups to nothing crowds while trying to transform his South African stardom into American relevance. SOURCE: OZY

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Calling Out Libya’s Warring Factions

The United Nations envoy to Libya says the airstrikes on a detention center for migrants outside of Libya’s capital that killed at least 40 people could be a war crime. Libyan health officials said in addition to those killed in the strikes late Tuesday, another 80 people were wounded. U.N. High Commission for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in the aftermath of the attacks that civilians must not be targets, that migrants and refugees should not be detained, and that Libya is not a safe place to return migrants who are rescued trying to make the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Grandi called on those countries with influence on the parties involved in Libya’s conflict to work together to end the fighting. African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat called for all sides to ensure the safety of civilians, especially detained migrants, while demanding an independent investigation into Tuesday’s airstrikes.SOURCE: VOA

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Another Bungle in the Italian Trial Against African Smuggler

The elite antimafia division of the Palermo prosecutor’s office has charged an adverb with the crime of human trafficking, defence lawyers and language specialists have said. Charges against “Mesi” were brought as part of a sprawling international investigation on human smuggling, but it appears Sicilian magistrates confused the word for “when” in the Tigrinya language of Eritrea with the name of a man they thought was a powerful smuggler. “Mesi is a human trafficker who has trafficked a woman named Martha from Africa to Europe,” the prosecutors wrote. A Tigrinya interpreter for the court has said, however, it is not a person’s name and believed it was a misspelling of meas, the word for “when”. Three Eritrean interpreters separately said Mesi was not used as a name in Tigrinya. Despite this, the prosecutors, who had already placed the suspected trafficker under investigation last year, have ignored the court interpreter’s official assessment and last week formally charged “Mesi” with human trafficking. The charges are part of the controversial trial in Palermo of a man named as Medhanie Yehdego Mered, who the Italian authorities regard as the “Al Capone of the desert”. The person arrested in Khartoum in June 2016 with the help of the UK National Crime Agency appears not to be Mered but an Eritrean refugee named Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe, who is a victim of mistaken identity.SOURCE:  THE GUARDIAN

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Brain Drain is a Major Challenge Facing the Nigerian Health System

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Nigeria is one of the three leading African sources of foreign-born physicians. Doctors leave for a variety of reasons depending on where they are in their careers. For example, many leave immediately after graduation. They usually leave for one or two reasons. Firstly, to pursue international residency training. Most in this category usually don’t return to the country. They prefer to work where their newly acquired skills can be put to better use. The second reason is if they fail to find a job or space for residency training. Most in this category also never return home to practice. The exodus has led to a drop in the quality of health care service due to the absence of skilled personnel. To reverse the brain drain, researchers say the Nigerian government should create a conducive environment that will ensure employment opportunities and reduce poverty. It must provide the needed infrastructure such as good roads and transport systems, affordable and functional education, water supply, security, stable energy in addition to good health care system.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Brewed in Zimbabwe a Hit on the Market

A long-time Zimbabwean coffee grower, David Muganyura almost gave up on the crop when prices slumped to as low as U.S. 20 cents a pound at the turn of the millennium, and foreign buyers took flight after land seizures drove out more than 120 white commercial coffee farmers under the banner of post-colonial reform. But with companies like Nestle’s Nespresso arm now willing to pay a premium for Zimbabwe’s beans, small-scale farmers like Muganyura are returning to a sector that was all-but destroyed under former President Robert Mugabe. Coffee output in Zimbabwe was 430 tonnes in 2018, a 10% increase over the previous year. This year production is set at 500 tonnes, according to industry officials. Zimbabwe was never among the world’s top producers: output peaked at around 15,000 tonnes in the late 1990s. But its Arabica coffee is prized for its zesty and fruity tones, and the sector once provided a livelihood for more than 20,000 poor farmers. Nespresso, which started buying Zimbabwean coffee last year at a 30%-40% premium above international prices and pays farmers in U.S. dollars, is helping to drive the modest revival. Its limited edition “Tamuka muZimbabwe” (“We Have Awakened in Zimbabwe”) coffee, launched in 16 countries in May, sold out in three weeks. SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Activists say Evictions at DRC Mine are Just a Band Aid

Illegal miners at a copper and cobalt mine run by Glencore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) defied a deadline to vacate the site on Tuesday, a union official said, raising fears of a potentially violent standoff. A landslide last Thursday at the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) concession, majority-owned by a Glencore subsidiary and located in the southeastern part of the country, killed 43 people, prompting the government to vow to remove the miners. The army’s inspector general, that an operation to clear the estimated 2,000 miners is underway.  Union officials and global activist groups – including Amnesty International – argue that expulsion does little to address underlying factors, such as poverty and unemployment, that push people to brave dangerous conditions and engage in illegal mining. “Without an alternative, the artisanals won’t leave and the army will move in. When soldiers are sent into the field, we all know what happens,” said Charles Kumbi, regional programme director with the IndustriALL union.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Private Sector Impact Investment Partnership To Deliver SDGs

In a refreshing partnership of multiple parties collaborating to present a new and exciting different view from the mainstream Development, Philanthropy, Banking, Business, Finance and Social Ventures, organisers are looking forward to advocating and forming new partnerships with our top decision makers, many of whom accepted our invitation to get an introduction to the immense potential of Impact Investment for Ghana and the Region. The call to action was simple: rethink Development Financing and how we are going to meet the SDGs in practical terms. The world has changed, investors and business leaders will be exposed to the global shifts in investment trends, develop the appropriate contextual solutions and tools to do this effectively. To achieve this step change in Ghana will need extensive support and collaboration with stakeholders including government, big business, SMEs with social impact, Development partners and academia/research institutions. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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East African Citizen Groups Sue Uganda and Rwanda

Three civil society groups, on behalf of communities along the border, said they had filed a complaint with the East African Court of Justice demanding reparations from Uganda and Rwanda for their losses. Trade has been severely disrupted since late February when Rwanda abruptly closed the border with its northern neighbour, severing a major economic land route used daily by merchants and business people on both sides. The closure followed months of rising acrimony between Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, former allies turned foes who have exchanged public accusations of spying in each other’s territory. Apart from a brief interlude in June the frontier has remained shut, damaging the local economies of both countries reliant on cross-border trade to survive. The court, in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, was set up to rule on matters of the East African Community, a six-member bloc including Rwanda and Uganda, as well as Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan.SOURCE:  BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Zimbabwean Migrants Uses Art to Illustrate her Journey

You might have seen her work at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in London or Marrakech. For those who missed the recent Virginia Chihota show at Tiwani Contemporary’ London gallery—it closed on 29th of June—the Zimbabwean artist is known for images expressing various forms of cultural dislocation. Virginia represented Zimbabwe at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 and was awarded the Prix Canson in the same year. Her work is represented in the collections of Tate, The National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Deutsche Bank, Saatchi, JP Morgan Chase, the US Department of State and FRAC-Picardie. Knowing Virginia’s various expressions of cultural dislocation, we asked Eva Langret, the director of Tiwani Contemporary, if she herself felt like a world nomad. “I was born in the early 80s and so my experience of travelling is marked by globalisation, late-capitalism and technological advances: a connected global context that is particularly visible in the creative (and privileged) fields. There are organisations, signs, patterns of behaviour that I recognise, and see myself in, all over the world and so this has tempered my experience of dislocation. My international context is widely different from that of my father, for instance, who came from the Congo to France in the 70s, and who experienced dislocation in a way that I never did: a sense of longing for home that I am relatively free of.”SOURCE: TRUE AFRICA

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Burundi’s Rebranding Campaign Misses the Nation Building Mark

President Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially renamed the country’s national landmarks to reflect the historical contribution of the majority Hutu ethnic group. Renaming the national stadium, the presidential palace and main airport was meant to “remind Burundians of their history,” he said in his independence-day speech on 1 July. The main stadium in the former capital city of Bujumbura, which hosts football matches and national day celebrations, is now officially called Heroes Stadium. It used to be named after Louis Rwagasore, one of the most revered and prominent figures in Burundi’s history. His portrait is also used in the country’s currency. The main airport in Bujumbura will now be called Merchior Ndadaye after the country’s first democratically elected president. The ethnic Hutu only ruled for three months in 1993 before he was assassinated after his reforms antagonised the Tutsi-dominated army. The new presidential palace was renamed after King Ntare Rushatsi. It cost $22m to build and was reportedly a gift from China. The legendary King Rushatsi is seen as having been the founder of the Burundi kingdom in the 1500s. Critics, however, say the move was meant to erase the contribution of members of the minority Tustsi community. Since independence from Belgium in 1962, the landlocked central African country has been plagued by tension between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.SOURCE: BBC