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‘Most Complex Health Crisis in History’: Congo Struggles to Contain Ebola

Political, security and cultural complications – not least a refusal to believe that Ebola exists – have thwarted efforts to overcome DRC’s deadly outbreak. Refusal to believe in the existence of Ebola is one difficulty for doctors who say the current outbreak of the deadly virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the “most complex public health emergency in history” and warn it could drag on for months. The outbreak, with more than 2,100 cases and more than 1,412 confirmed deaths in just over a year, is the second largest in history, despite recent availability of an effective experimental vaccine. Centred on three locations in North Kivu – Beni, Mangina and Butembo – the response led by the World Health Organization and DRC’s ministry of health faces political security and cultural complexities.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Kenya Signs Milestone Crude Processing Deal With Oil Firms

The Kenyan government has signed agreements with oil major Total, Tullow Oil < and Africa Oil Corp to develop a 60,000-80,000 barrels per day crude processing facility for oil discovered in the country’s northwest. Tullow and Africa Oil first discovered crude oil in the Lokichar basin in 2012, which Tullow Oil estimates contains an estimated 560 million barrels in proven and probable reserves. Tullow has said this would translate to 60,000 to 100,000 barrels per day of gross production. In addition to the processing facility, a crude oil export pipeline from Lokichar to Lamu on Kenya’s coast was also part of the deal.  Tuesday’s deal is a major milestone on the way to a final investment decision on Kenya’s first oil project, which Tullow aims to reach by the end of the year. It expects first full-scale oil production in 2022.SOURCE: REUTERS

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Rwanda’s Rhino Population Grows, Tourists Expected to Increase

Rhino keepers who successfully delivered five endangered black rhinos to Rwanda spent months hugging and coddling them inside their transport boxes to prepare them for the journey, a rhino handler told Reuters as the animals were freed on Monday. There are only about 1,000 black rhinos left in the wild, Jes Gruner, the Akagera National Park manager said. The new arrivals mean Rwanda is home to 25 of them. Tourism is a key foreign exchange earner in the East African nation, home to mountain gorillas and the so-called “Big Five” African game animals – lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, and leopard. “Every year our tourism numbers are going up and bringing these rhinos I am sure will help,” said Gruner. “The park received 44,000 visitors who generated over $2 million last year.”SOURCE: MSN

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Sub-Saharan Africa’s Advertising Spend, 0.47% of Global Investments

Africa is the continent with the youngest and fastest growing population in the world, with some of the fastest growing economies in the world, but it is still not attracting significant advertising investments. Sub-Saharan Africa hosts 17% of the world’s population, but represents only 2% of the world’s gross domestic product. In terms of advertising investment it represents only 0, 47% of global investments. This is mainly because Africa is made up of many different countries with many different cultures and languages, unstable rules and regulatory environments, and a historic lack of data to help understand the marketplace.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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ANALYSIS: African Gay Bashing ‘a colonial import’

Some decry Botswana’s enlightened High Court judgment on gay sex. But studies show that homosexuality existed – and was tolerated – across pre-colonial Africa. According to Human Rights Watch, 32 of 54 African countries now have laws that criminalise consensual, same-sex relationships. But such laws are not indigenous: they were generally imported, either by British colonial governments or under Islamic Sharia law. Judge Michael Leburu said: “Our constitutional ethos of liberty, equality and dignity are paramount. Our constitution is a dynamic, enduring and living charter of progressive rights which reflect the values of pluralism, tolerance and inclusivity. “Minorities who are perceived by the majority as deviants or outcasts are not to be excluded and ostracised. Discrimination has no place in this world.”SOURCE: NEWS 24

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How Jumia Claimed Africa

Jumia, Africa’s largest online retailer, was founded in 2012 by Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara, who were both former employees of the American worldwide management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Jumia offers customers the ability to buy products online, like phones and shoes, as well as groceries, flights, food delivery, and offers bill paying and cellular data plans. The company sought to build an online shopping experience, among other digital products, that could work well with Africa’s sometimes ineffective infrastructure. According to Chinese state-run news organization China Daily, Alibaba serviced 4.2 million African customers through its AliExpress services since it entered the continent. Jumia serviced 4.3 million users and 81 thousand active sellers in the 14 countries it services since it started. Amazon is available in 11 countries on the African continent, but neither Amazon nor Alibaba have had the benefit of getting their start in African countries. Jumia, for example, offers unique features like allowing customers to pay for items upon delivery.SOURCE: CNBC AFRICA

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Extreme Weather Is Shaking Up Africa’s Corn Trade

At least three African nations will need to import more corn this year after extreme weather from cyclones to drought devastated crops, sparking some unusual trade flows. Consumers in sub-Saharan Africa generally eat white corn, while the yellow variety that’s more commonly traded globally is used for animal feed. That, combined with bans on genetically modified crops in many African countries, can make international purchases difficult, and the imports come amid a rally in global corn prices as floods ravage U.S. plantings.  Imports of coarse grain in sub-Saharan Africa may reach 4.8 million tons in the year that begins in October, according to the USDA. Though that’s a small fraction of global trade, it marks the region’s highest demand in three years. Aside from corn, the region’s consumption of wheat and rice has also been climbing. Consumer preferences are shifting, and imports may gain further amid the drought.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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What South Africa Can Teach the U.S. About Reparations

Reparations can work, but only if we start telling the truth about racism and slavery. Americans can learn from South Africa, which over two decades ago undertook a national, public truth-telling initiative — the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) — to address its long history of institutionalized racism. That initiative was a necessary first step in the country’s process of healing and rebuilding relationships, rooted in a shared past. Black South Africans also gained something from these public hearings, broadcast nationally on television. For many of them, this was finally an acknowledgment of the daily horrors that they were subject to during apartheid. With testimony from 21,000 victims, the 2,000 public hearings and 7,112 amnesty applications made it difficult to cling to denialism because a collective narrative of a racist past began to emerge. The hearings forced South Africans to confront the horrors of their past. In the United States today, matters of race, racism and racial inequalities no longer remain tensions under the surface. We must openly air the many shameful truths about America’s racist past, so that future generations will remember us as the generation that took action to craft a new founding story where all Americans are included.SOURCE: THE WASHINGTON POST

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Zimbabwe Hikes Overnight Lending Rate to 50%

Zimbabwe’s central bank said on Monday it had raised its overnight lending rate to 50% from 15% to support the local currency, after the government banned the use of foreign currencies as legal tender. The central bank also said in a statement that it had put in place letters of credit to secure key imports for goods like fuel and wheat, and that it would take steps to increase the supply of foreign currency on the interbank forex market. SOURCE: MONEY WEB

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Afcon 2019: Meet the ‘Animals’ Competing for the Africa Cup of Nations

The Africa Cup of Nations is under way in Egypt, with 24 countries – all with different monikers – clashing on the field over the next three weeks. Nicknames mean a lot in African football – not only do they give identity to the fans, they also help motivate players. Team nicknames, alongside colourful fans and drums, are part of the very essence of the competition. Over the next three weeks, the eagle is possibly going to feature most prominently in Egypt. From the lion to the snake, leopards to elephants, all of them will be at this year’s tournament, including. Respecting rulers is a strong tradition in Africa – and so it is no surprise to find teams named after them. Football fans across Africa will be keenly awaiting the end of the competition on 19 July to know whether the eagles have soared, the lions have roared or the pharaohs have reigned supreme once more.SOURCE: BBC

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Celebrating the Captains of Africa’s Banking Industry

The 2019 edition of the African Banker Awards held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, recognised their  contributions to banking excellence. The Awards, held annually on the fringes of the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank have established themselves as ‘the Oscars of African banking’. The two big awards of the night went to development finance institutions.
Afreximbank won Bank of the Year and the Trade and Development Bank’s (TDB) President, Ethiopian Admassu Tadesse, won African Banker of the Year. TDB has grown its portfolio five-fold since Tadesse took over as President, largely increasing its presence in East and Southern Africa, where it operates. Afreximbank in the past 18 months has launched a number of game-changing products. This year’s lifetime achievement went to former First Rand Group CEO, South African Sizwe Nxasana. In other categories, Ecobank won Retail Bank of the year; Kenya’s KCB won the prize for innovation and Equity Bank for its CSR activities. Nigeria’s Bank of Industry won the prize for Financial Inclusion. No one region dominated this year’s awards although there was a call from the organisers for greater effort to ensure banking was more inclusive, both in terms of gender representation across senior management in banks and in lending to small and medium sized enterprises.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Africa’s Blue Economy is Set for a Tech Tsunami

From the Caribbean to the South African coast, marine  archaeologist Matthew Arnett’s work involves recovering treasures from the deep – and preserving them for posterity. PO8 is a marine archaeology startup that uses blockchain technology to recover sunken artifacts from the ocean floor. Using the blockchain model, through PO8, ownership of the recovered treasures and artifacts is with non-fungible tokens, which are asset-backed tokens. The growing historical tourism market in the Caribbean generates revenue without selling any of the recovered artifacts, leading to social and economic impact that he says can be duplicated in Africa, “Because of the success in the Caribbean, it only makes sense to come back to Africa to put the same model in place. There are millions and billions of dollars in the ocean. We are going to find other things that relate back to Africa, so we might also be able to find some missing links from an anthropology stand point.” 

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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Here’s What Business Heard in South Africa’s SONA

Business Unity South Africa has lamented the absence of “real implementation plans” from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s June State of the Nation Address (SoNA) and has urged him to work with business to table a clear implementation plan, with timeframes and milestones, to address South Africa’s prevailing economic “crisis”. Busa welcomed Ramaphosa’s commitment to a social compact and said it was prepared to work with him in building such a consensus in the national interest. However, such a compact could not avoid hard decisions and should send unequivocal messages in support of building investor confidence. President Cyril Ramaphosa described the youth unemployment rate of 50% as a national crisis. He pledged to create two million jobs for young people over the next decade. He listed economic growth, job creation as well as improving education and health as the country’s top priorities. He also promised to support the country’s struggling electricity utility Eskom.

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Solving Nigeria’s E-waste Problem

The Nigerian government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment today launched a new $15 million initiative to turn the tide on e-waste in Nigeria. A global model for a circular electronics system, the project was announced at the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 and will kickstart a sustainable electronics economy in Nigeria, protecting the environment while creating safe employment for thousands of people. The initiative will transform Nigeria’s current informal and hazardous recycling into a formally legislated system that benefits all actors by including a small fee on the sale of electronics to subsidise formal recycling. With 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore, alongside other scarce and valuable materials such as platinum, cobalt and rare earth elements, a safe and efficient recycling industry has huge economic potential. According to the International Labour Organization, up to 100,000 people work in the informal e-waste recycling sector in Nigeria, and over half a million tonnes of discarded appliances are processed in the country every year. Yet waste that is considered to have no economic value is often dumped or burned – releasing pollutants like heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the air, water and soil. The initiative will develop systems for the disposal of non-usable and toxic waste, aiming to collect, treat and dispose of more than 270 tonnes of e-waste contaminated with persistent organic pollutants and 30 tonnes of waste containing mercury. The project also aims to have an impact beyond Nigeria through the development of a practical circular electronics model for Africa and beyond, by sharing best practices, promoting regional and global dialogue, and engaging global manufacturers.

SOURCES: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

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The World Bank’s Bid to Aid Ebola Prone Countries has Strict Conditions

Since 2017, the World Bank has been issuing “pandemic bonds,” which use private investment to help developing nations tackle outbreaks of infectious diseases. The particular bond that covers Ebola, among other diseases, pays investors a coupon of 11.1 percent over Libor, funded by donor nations Japan and Germany. Since the first case of Ebola in August last year, almost 1,400 people out of 2,000 infected have died in eastern Congo, a region with rich mineral deposits but one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the UN. But that doesn’t mean they get the aid money. Despite thousands of deaths in Congo, the bonds will only benefit affected nations once they jump international borders and a positive rate of growth of the outbreak is confirmed, according to a person familiar with the bonds. Then and only then would the Washington-headquartered World Bank pay $90 million to help both governments and international aid responders tackle the crisis. Additionally, since their introduction, pandemic bonds have yet to pay out to affected nations. In February, the development bank gave the DRC $80 million in grants to help finance responses for the Ebola outbreak. But the bank’s readiness to allow the death toll to rise, before paying out fully on the insurance element of the facility, is likely to fuel criticism over the deal’s structure. If the bonds mature without paying out, investors get their money back, plus the chunky coupons.

SOURCES: OZY

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Calls to Diversify Africa’s Biggest Company

Naspers Ltd.’s biggest shareholder is considering whether to reduce its 16.5 billion stake in Africa’s biggest company because of concern it’s overexposed to a single stock. South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund is being encouraged by its manager, the Public Investment Corp., to reduce its Naspers shareholding of about 16%, said three of the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. Any decision is ultimately up to the GEPF. Naspers’s value has grown 72-fold since 2004 on the back of the success of an early-stage investment in Chinese games developer Tencent Holdings Ltd., which listed in Hong Kong that year. That’s turned Naspers, a Cape Town-based internet technology investor once focused on South African newspapers, into a $101 billion global entity. But it’s also made the company dependent on China, where it has little influence. The shares gained 2% in Johannesburg as Tencent gained in Hong Kong. “Naspers success is dependent on the Chinese government,” said Tahir Maepa, deputy general manager for members affairs of the Public Servants Association, whose 240,000-members make it the biggest labor union representing contributors to the GEPF. “It’s a huge risk, not only for the PIC, it’s a risk for the South African economy and the JSE,” he said, adding that the GEPF should “definitely” cut its stake.

SOURCES: BLOOMBERG

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Investing in Innovation and Smart Digital Growth in Africa

The African Development Bank and its partners have launched the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), designed to aid safety and expansion of digital financial transactions in Africa. The Fund, launched at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Government of Luxembourg, as initial contributors. Bank Vice President Pierre Guislain, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, said the goal is to ensure that at least 320 million more Africans, of which nearly 60% are women, have access to digital financial services. The fund will deploy $100 million in grants and $300 million in the form of debt from the Bank’s ordinary capital resources by 2030, to scale up electronic financial services for low-income communities. The interventions will be aligned to four pillars; infrastructure, including digital and interoperable payment systems; digital products and innovation; policy and regulatory reform and harmonisation; and capacity building. It will help to close the transaction gender gap between men and women.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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African Countries with Small to Medium-sized Economies Pay Far More Money for Less Effective Drugs

In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.  Leading health expert, Kalipso Chalkidou from the Centre for Global Development, co-authored a report on drug procurement that concluded that small to middling economy countries buy a smaller range of medicines, leading to weaker competition, regulation and quality. It says richer countries, thanks to public money and strong processes for buying drugs, are able to procure cheaper medicines. Poorer countries, however, tend to buy the most expensive medicines, rather than cheaper unbranded pharmaceuticals which make up 85% of the market in the UK and US. The very poorest countries are not affected when foreign donors purchase medicine on their behalf, meaning their over-the-counter medicines remain at low cost.

SOURCES: STAT NEWS

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Investigating Human Rights Abuse Mining in Tanzania

Electronics companies, including Canon, Apple and Nokia, are re-evaluating their supply chains following reports they may be using gold extracted from a Tanzanian mine that has been criticised for environmental failures. Over the past 10 years, at the North Mara goldmine – which is operated by London-listed Acacia Mining – there have been more than a dozen killings of intruding locals by security personnel. More recently, the Tanzanian government has imposed penalties on the mine and ordered the operators to build an alternative to its tailings reservoir, which is used to store the byproducts of mining. Under Tanzanian law, no mine should operate within 200 metres of a home or 100 metres of a farm, but Acacia told the Guardian it had not been able to meet this requirement. The company has built a wall in some areas, improved security training and introduced a grievance mechanism, which have led to a marked reduction in conflict over the past two years, but locals claimed there were still accidents and violence as a result of incursions, and toxic wastewater continued to seep from the mine into residential areas and waterways nearby.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Light Bulb Moments as Egyptians Bypass Blackouts

Egypt has been working to diversify its sources of electricity, building wind, solar and nuclear plants, in addition to boosting traditional oil and gas-fired energy production in a bid to end chronic power shortages. The push comes after the country experienced crippling blackouts during the summer of 2014. As temperature soared, so did the tempers of Egyptians. The year before, anger over power cuts had fueled demonstrations that led to the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood government and the ouster of the late President Mohamed Morsi. Today, as in years past, many Egyptians blame corruption for the decrepit state of Egypt’s power grid and many welcome the government’s efforts to modernize it.With rates continuing to rise, Egyptian families often reduce costs by limiting lighting to one bulb for an entire room. A rigged electricity meter in a Cairo apartment building is a usual sight as residents sometimes resort to stealing to save money on electric bills. 

SOURCES: VOA

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How These African Refugees See Themselves

To mark World Refugee Day, Save the Children invited children living in settlements in Jordan, Bangladesh and Uganda to draw their hopes and memories on a portrait of themselves. Alizia, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, living in Kyaka refugee settlement, Uganda says ‘I don’t want to go back to the DRC because the rebels used to beat my parents, and I lost my father. I wish we could settle in one place instead of having to move around, so that I can study. I want to become a doctor or a nurse’. Mamadou, 14, from DRC, living in Kyaka settlement : ‘I have been in Uganda for three years. In my future, first I need to be educated so I can be a teacher. And after that, because here I learned football, I can combine that activity to play and be a teacher when there are holidays’. SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Gay Refugees are especially Vulnerable after Returning to Kenya

Burundi national Nina Muregwa says she feels threatened again. After escaping death threats back home over her sexual identity the 17-year-old thought she had found a sanctuary in Kenya. Recent incidents, however, have left her scared for her life once more. She and other LGBT refugees allege they have been harassed by police in recent weeks in Kenya, which is a rare regional haven for the gay community and yet maintains that gay sex is illegal. It is the only East African nation where someone can seek asylum and be registered as a refugee based on their LGBT status, the United Nations refugee agency says. It is not clear how many are registered in Kenya. The refugees have now locked themselves in their two-bedroom house in the capital, Nairobi, saying they are too frightened to venture out even for food because of threats from local residents. Kenyan human rights activists say they saw this coming. They had warned that a closely watched High Court ruling last month upholding the criminalization of gay sex would bring a backlash against the LGBT community.SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS NETWORK

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The World Bank’s Bid to Aid Ebola Prone Countries has Strict Conditions

Since 2017, the World Bank has been issuing “pandemic bonds,” which use private investment to help developing nations tackle outbreaks of infectious diseases. The particular bond that covers Ebola, among other diseases, pays investors a coupon of 11.1 percent over Libor, funded by donor nations Japan and Germany. Since the first case of Ebola in August last year, almost 1,400 people out of 2,000 infected have died in eastern Congo, a region with rich mineral deposits but one of the poorest countries in the world, according to the UN. But that doesn’t mean they get the aid money. Despite thousands of deaths in Congo, the bonds will only benefit affected nations once they jump international borders and a positive rate of growth of the outbreak is confirmed, according to a person familiar with the bonds. Then and only then would the Washington-headquartered World Bank pay $90 million to help both governments and international aid responders tackle the crisis. Additionally, since their introduction, pandemic bonds have yet to pay out to affected nations. In February, the development bank gave the DRC $80 million in grants to help finance responses for the Ebola outbreak. But the bank’s readiness to allow the death toll to rise, before paying out fully on the insurance element of the facility, is likely to fuel criticism over the deal’s structure. If the bonds mature without paying out, investors get their money back, plus the chunky coupons.SOURCE: OZY

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Sudanese Beauty Vlogger Goes Bare

As a beauty influencer, Shadh Khidir typically uses her Instagram page to post immaculately-made up images promoting products to her followers. But these days, the Sudanese influencer is using her feed for something altogether more serious by posting about the crisis happening in her home country. In one of her posts, Khidir appears with no makeup, weeping and telling her nearly 100k followers about “the massacre happening in my country.” The 26-year-old New Yorker said she was crying because one of her friends died in the ongoing protests in the country. Since the post on June 6, which went viral, Khidir has continued to drum up support and raise awareness on her feed, asking her followers to donate to the country. She was one of the first people to speak about the killing of Mohamed Hashim Mattar during a crackdown by the Sudanese paramilitary forces on protesters demanding a change in leadership in Khartoum on June 3.SOURCE: CNN

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Compassion Project Labelled Superiority Cloaked as Altruism

An immersive experience intended to show UK citizens “the sights, sounds and smells of a developing country” has come in for criticism, with one politician labelling the charity initiative a “poverty safari”. The exhibits are experienced through an iPhone and headphones. Child actors narrate the stories as you walk through small rooms depicting their homes, classrooms and even a hospital clinic. The stories end with short videos showing present-day Shamim and Sameson, talking about how the charity changed their lives. A text then appears on the iPhone screen: “Please find your Shamim/Sameson right now.” Upon leaving the final room in the exhibit, you enter a small room full of catalogues of poor children looking for a sponsor. It had the feel of a makeshift museum gift shop. Instead of buying coffee-table books and overpriced T-shirts, you could spend time flicking through the profiles of children in Africa, South America and Asia. Each child has had a rough life and a tragic story to tell.SOURCE: BBC

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Light Bulb Moments as Egyptians Bypass Blackouts

Egypt has been working to diversify its sources of electricity, building wind, solar and nuclear plants, in addition to boosting traditional oil and gas-fired energy production in a bid to end chronic power shortages. The push comes after the country experienced crippling blackouts during the summer of 2014. As temperature soared, so did the tempers of Egyptians. The year before, anger over power cuts had fueled demonstrations that led to the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood government and the ouster of the late President Mohamed Morsi. Today, as in years past, many Egyptians blame corruption for the decrepit state of Egypt’s power grid and many welcome the government’s efforts to modernize it.With rates continuing to rise, Egyptian families often reduce costs by limiting lighting to one bulb for an entire room. A rigged electricity meter in a Cairo apartment building is a usual sight as residents sometimes resort to stealing to save money on electric bills. SOURCE: VOA

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It’s the Second Time this Month that Dogon Villages have Come Under Attack

The attackers behind the latest attack to have hit central Mali identified victims one by one before executing then, survivors have said. At least 38 people were killed in the villages where survivors and officials say Fulani gunmen arrived by motorbike before attacking villagers in “revenge” for suspicions that they had collaborated with the Malian army. The raids followed a massacre of dozens of people earlier this month in another Dogon village, Sobane Da. That attack came months after suspected Dogon militiamen in late March killed more than 150 Fulani in two villages in central Mali, one of the worst acts of bloodshed in the country’s recent history. Local officials said the situation has calmed down, but residents were shocked how the gunmen were able to arrive en masse by motorbike even after the government imposed a ban on the vehicles as a way to tighten security. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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African Hotel Markets Experience Sound Transactional Activity

Though Africa remains a market where hotel real estate investment is typically dominated by development, increasing transactional activity is providing much needed liquidity. However, when it comes to hotel investment in Africa, as with anywhere in the world, various factors and influences are impacting acquisition trends and cycles. Developing hotels in Africa is a challenging task but investment opportunities are undoubtedly on the rise. This rise in sentiment is predominantly explained by the lack of quantitative and qualitative supply in some regions, with many hotels not being able to respond to the increasing demand. One of the key strategies in the African hotel transaction market is backing strong buyers, understanding their needs, required returns, preferred territories and then connecting them to the right hotel investment opportunities.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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The State of the South African Nation

President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his second State of the Nation Address to Parliament in 2019 and his third major statement of intent since the ouster of Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018. South Africa’s struggling economy, beset by poor policy, bad implementation and even worse prospects, remains the number one problem for Ramaphosa’s government. Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela’s choice to succeed him as president because he believed Ramaphosa, perhaps more than anyone, understood the imperative of nationbuilding and reconciliation, two concepts increasingly being rejected and mocked by younger and frustrated South Africans. The ANC, in line with their guiding ideology of the National Democratic Revolution and the mechanics of cadre deployment, believes that the state is at the centre of power rather than the enabler of private growth and progress. Some in the party believe this must change, however, given the excesses in employment and disasters in service delivery over the last decade or more. How to deal with crime levels and corruption also remain a priority for the audience.SOURCE: NEWS 24

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Life Changing Surgery Comes to Gabon

For 28 years, Gabonese Dorothee Adjakidjie suffered embarrassment and shame from not knowing whether she was male or female after being born with genitals of both sexes. When she decided this year to be a woman and undergo gender reassignment surgery so she could seek a male partner, she faced another problem: living in a nation with two million people but not a single plastic surgeon. Michael Obeng, from Beverly Hills, chose her for one of 100 free operations carried out this year in Gabon by doctors from his medical charity R.E.S.T.O.R.E – and the first intervention of its kind by a plastic surgeon in the central African country. Obeng, whose charity has also performed operations in Guatemala, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria and Ghana, said Dorothee would not be able to bear children because she won’t have a functioning uterus or ovaries. Reuters TV filmed the successful operation, which involved removing the penis and turning a partial vagina into a fully-formed one. The United Nations estimated in 2016 that 1.7 percent of new-born babies can, like Dorothee, be classified as intersex.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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How Planting a Tree has Saved these African Communities

TreeSisters’ philosophy is different: local, community-based reforestation with native trees in the tropics. In Madagascar, the charity is helping Eden Reforestation Projects replant lost mangrove and dry deciduous forests on the north-west coast. Mangroves are a wonder-tree for local and global ecosystem services; they protect human communities from coastal floods but also filterriver flows out to sea and prevent soil washing into the ocean and destroying coral reefs. In the project’s first year, eight people planted 100,000 mangroves. Now Eden employs more than 1,000 people to plant trees, with 225m new mangrove trees planted since 2006. A similar emphasis on reforestation for local people is driving the restoration of deforested Mount Kenya. Local charities such as Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation work with local women to establish small nurseries of native trees at the forest fringe. The sales of these tree seedlings provide the groups with an income, which is then distributed as loans to help women’s farms and businesses. Native trees are planted directly into deforested areas, while a new scheme enables local people to temporarily grow potatoes in reforested areas, the cultivation helping native trees grow free of weeds for their first few years.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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YouTubers Emerge as Unofficial Spokespeople for Algeria’s Youth

A key catalyst of the protests has been the emergence of a new generation: tech-savvy, politically conscious and hungry for change. Growing up in a context of rising inequality and limited opportunities, and faced with a moribund official media ecosystem – long closed to any dissenting voices – millions of young Algerians have had to forge their own alternative spaces, principally on social media platforms. Leading the charge, a wave of YouTube pioneers, operating from their bedrooms and their neighbourhoods, have posted videos chronicling – with wit, irreverence and candour – the daily realities and tribulations of their lives and those of their fellow Algerians. Boasting high production values and delivered in a colloquial idiom, these videos stand in marked contrast to the stuffy, crude offerings of official media. Fittingly enough, and bringing things full circle, the protests have themselves elicited countless responses on YouTube and elsewhere, inspiring a new generation of artists and creators.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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And the Best Airline in Africa Is…

Ethiopian Airlines has taken the coveted prize for the third consecutive year at the Skytrax 2019 World Airlines Awards held in Paris on Tuesday. Additionally, Ethiopian has won ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ and ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’ at the award ceremony. “We have grown to more than 120 destinations worldwide with 115 ultra-modern fleet, offering excellent connectivity with one of the best travel experiences that helped us become the best airline in Africa and one of the frontrunners in the world,” said Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. The airline says it has stood the test of time and achieved most of its overarching goals, going halfway through its projected 15 year plan, Vision 2025. The company is now expanding its footprint to underserved global destinations and is serving global travelers with its signature Africa’s flavored Ethiopian hospitality onboard and in the air. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in March, killing all 157 people on board and drawing scrutiny to the new Boeing model’s anti-stall system.SOURCE: NEW BUSINESS ETHIOPIA

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Assisted Suicide on the Spotlight in South Africa

A leading pro-euthanasia activist Sean Davison is to serve three years under house arrest after he was found guilty of premeditated murder for helping three people to kill themselves. Assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal in South Africa. The 57-year-old New Zealand-born forensic scientist is the founder of right-to-die organisation DignitySA. He was arrested in September last year in connection with the death of his friend Anrich Burger in 2013, who had become a quadriplegic after a car accident. He pleaded guilty at Western Cape High Court to helping her. He also admitted to helping Justin Varian and Richard Holland end their lives. The presiding judge accepted a plea deal, meaning that Davison received a sentence of eight years in total, five of which are suspended. Davison became a campaigner for the right to assisted dying after he was arrested in New Zealand in 2010 for helping his 85-year-old mother, who was ill with terminal cancer, to die four years earlier.SOURCE: THE SOUTH AFRICAN

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Mining Diamonds from Namibia’s Seabed

Five African commercial banks have partnered in a $375 million financing deal to build a new diamond mining vessel for a subsidiary of Anglo American’s diamond unit De Beers. Nedbank Namibia, RMB Namibia, Standard Bank, ABSA and Bank Windhoek agreed to provide 80% of the funding for the ship, which will be the world’s largest of its type. Debmarine Namibia – a 50-50 joint venture company between De Beers and the government of Namibia – will provide the balance of $94 million. The ship, to be known as the AMV3, will be the seventh in the Debmarine Namibia joint venture’s fleet, which mines high-quality diamonds from the ocean floor using hi-tech surveying equipment. The AMV3 has the capacity to add 500,000 carats of annual production from 2022, and is expected to contribute $137.64 million a year in taxes and royalties to the Namibian treasury in its first five years of production.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Fake News on Social Media Damper Sudan Awareness

Some Instagram accounts have been accused of using a social media campaign that aims to promote solidarity with victims of unrest in Sudan merely to gain more followers on the platform. Last week, people on social media started turning their profile pictures blue in a bid to raise awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Blue was chosen to honor Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a 26-year-old Sudanese who was allegedly shot dead by the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces during a crackdown on protesters in the country’s capital, Khartoum, on June 3. In a Twitter post, Amnesty International Australia said blue was reportedly Mattar’s favorite color. While celebrities including Rihanna put up the color on their profiles, along with hashtags like #BlueForSudan, others apparently decided to set up bogus Instagram accounts to exploit the campaign to get more followers and shares. One account, @SudanMealProject, gathered nearly 400,000 followers in less than a week before Instagram removed it for violating its policies.SOURCE: CNN

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Big Win for One of Africa’s Largest Wildlife Parks

Niassa Reserve is marking a year without losing a single elephant to poachers. The last elephant killed by poachers in the Mozambique animal preserve was May 17, 2018. The New-York based Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the reserve with Mozambique’s government and several other partners, credits the achievement to the formation of a rapid response police force that is far better equipped than former game wardens. The force has access to better weapons, as well as helicopters and a small plane for aerial surveillance. The officers have also been granted the power to arrest poachers or would-be poachers. Tougher laws have also been put into place, including a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison for anyone caught with a weapon inside Niassa’s boundaries. Poaching had drastically reduced the number of elephants in Niassa, from more than 12,000 as recently as 2010 to a little more than 3,600 in 2016.  SOURCE: VOA

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Entrepreneur Thione Niang’s Mission To Do Good And Change Lives

As a child, Thione Niang used to listen to his mother cry at night, and promised himself he would change her life. Creating that change meant escaping his childhood, spent growing up with 28 siblings in a polygamist family in Senegal. Twenty-five years later, and after moving to the United States with $20 in his back pocket and no grasp of the English language, Niang was appointed an Ambassador of Energy by then-United States President Barack Obama. While Obama’s presidency has ended, Niang is continuing to work to change lives, not just for his mother, but for people right across Africa, by teaming up with international music superstar Akon on sustainable energy enterprise Akon Lighting Africa. As well as Akon Lighting Africa, Niang, who spoke to students at Bond University’s Transformer hub recently, travels the world speaking on social entrepreneurship, has his own government relations and public relations firm, and has published several books.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM

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Magufuli’s Vision of an Industrialised Nation is Well Underway

The Development Vision 2025 is focused on creating peace and stability, freedom from corruption, investment in the education of the Tanzanian people and a competitive and sustainable economy. The key to Magufuli’s Vision is industrialisation. The construction of Tanzania’s US$14.2 billion Standard Gauge Railway, stretching 2,561 kilometres connecting Dar es Salaam port to its land-locked neighbours, is an infrastructure project that will enhance trade opportunities for Tanzania. The Tanzania Port Authority is working toward this same agenda with the construction of the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP), which “will support the financing of crucial investments in the Port with the aim of improving its effectiveness and efficiency for the benefit of the public and private stakeholders. In addition to opening new doors for local and international trade, Tanzania has signed a groundbreaking contract with Egypt to build a new 2,115 MW hydroelectric power station. In an effort to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, the Rufiji Hydro Plant will be the largest in East Africa and is invaluable to Tanzania’s transformation.SOURCE: FORBES AFRICA

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Malawi’s First Madam Speaker

Two women are in the race to become speaker of the Malawian National Assembly, Esther Mcheka Chilenje, a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, is tipped as likely winner of the vote that has 190 MPs voting. Incidentally, her main opponent in the race is Mzimba North East MP (MCP) Catherine Gotani Hara. he last speaker belonged to the main opposition Malawi Congress Party, MCP, Karonga Nyungwe Richard Msowoya served between 2014 – 2019. He was also a MCP lawmaker and at the time its vice president. Whichever of the two women emerges victorious will join a growing league of women leading legislatures across Africa. Amongst others, South Africa, The Gambia, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are current examples..SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Egypt’s only Democratically Elected Civilian Leader Dies Mysteriously

Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi has been buried in a remote area of Cairo as his treatment in custody before his death was denounced as torture. His burial in the outlying Nasser City district took place under heavy security. Morsi’s son Ahmed told the Associated Press that Egyptian authorities had refused to allow a burial at the family grounds in Sharqiyah province. Morsi fainted in court on Monday and was pronounced dead on arrival in hospital. He was prosecuted on numerous charges after his one-year rule was brought to an end by a military coup in 2013. The UN called for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death and his treatment in custody. Crispin Blunt, the former chair of the foreign affairs select committee in the UK parliament, also called for an investigation. Blunt led an independent review by British MPs in March last year which concluded that the conditions in which Morsi was being kept were likely to lead to his premature death, and which condemned his treatment as cruel, inhumane and degrading. Blunt said his main concern was that Morsi’s liver disease and diabetes were not being treated. “Dr Morsi’s death in custody is representative of Egypt’s inability to treat prisoners in accordance with both Egyptian and international law,” he said. Morsi was elected president in 2012 after the ousting of the dictator Hosni Mubarak during in the Arab spring. Morsi was a divisive ruler during his year in office, a symbol of Egyptian democracy to some and a conservative authoritarian in the eyes of his opponents, who feared he was putting his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group before the good of the country. Military officials arrested Morsi in July 2013, followed by dozens of the Muslim Brotherhood’s top leadership. The former president received a 20-year sentence for the murder of protesters and a life sentence for passing state secrets to Qatar.SOURCE: CNN

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IOM Helps Ethiopian Migrants Return Home

Hundreds of Ethiopian migrants have returned home from Yemen as part of a UN repatriation programme. The International Organization for Migration (IOM)  says through fourflights over three days, IOM supported 137 men, 11 women and 28 children in returning home. Some 20 people with medical needs were among the group, for whom IOM provides escorts to ensure their safe travel. IOM says thousands more are waiting to leave and are being held in a football stadium in the port city of Aden. Around 12,000 people take the dangerous sea journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen every month despite its poverty. These are the first return movements to take place from Sana’a since mid-March 2019. In fact, IOM was only able to resume air movements from Yemen in November 2018; having had to suspend them just after the conflict broke out in 2015. During that time, IOM used boats to return vulnerable Ethiopian migrants to Ethiopia, via Djibouti. In Yemen, IOM provides the returning migrants with pre-departure assistance, including medical, mental health and psychosocial care. On arrival in Ethiopia, the returnees undergo health screenings and then are housed in IOM’s transit centre in Addis Ababa. From there, IOM supports them in reaching their final destinations. For unaccompanied and separated migrant children, IOM provides family tracing assistance, helping them to reunite with their primary caregivers. SOURCE: AL JAZEERA | IOM

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The Democratic Republic of Congo is at the Forefront of a Hidden Health Crisis

With vast jungles home to numerous species of venomous snakes, DR Congo is a hotspot of injury and death from snakebite envenomation, an issue highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Médecins Sans Frontières as a neglected crisis for Africa. Photographer Hugh Kinsella Cunningham has been documenting the issue and capturing close-up portraits of some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, for the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting. As many as 2.7 million people are poisoned by snakes every year, resulting in between 81,000 and 137,000 deaths, with many more amputations and permanent disabilities, according to a recent WHO report. Traditional healer in the western city of Mbandaka uses herbs and a snake’s head that has been ground into powder then burnt before being rubbed into small razor wounds made on the arms of a snakebite victim. At the Tabe medical clinic in Mbandaka, doctors have little or no access to anti-venoms and is left providing symptomatic care for snakebites.SOURCE: BBC

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African Countries with Small to Medium-sized Economies Pay Far More Money for Less Effective Drugs

In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.  Leading health expert, Kalipso Chalkidou from the Centre for Global Development, co-authored a report on drug procurement that concluded that small to middling economy countries buy a smaller range of medicines, leading to weaker competition, regulation and quality. It says richer countries, thanks to public money and strong processes for buying drugs, are able to procure cheaper medicines. Poorer countries, however, tend to buy the most expensive medicines, rather than cheaper unbranded pharmaceuticals which make up 85% of the market in the UK and US. The very poorest countries are not affected when foreign donors purchase medicine on their behalf, meaning their over-the-counter medicines remain at low cost.SOURCE: STAT NEWS

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Holland Festival Programming Gets an African Twist

This year, for the first time, the festival has invited two artists to contribute their programming ideas. Both are from Africa: Mr. Kentridge, the visual artist from South Africa, and Faustin Linyekula, the Congolese choreographer. The choice of Mr. Kentridge and Mr. Linyekula was part of an effort to extend the festival’s offerings beyond Europe and North America. That effort began in previous years with work from Latin America and parts of Asia, said Annemieke Keurentjes, the programming director, alongside Jochem Valkenburg. “Africa feels like the last bit to really explore,” she said. Ms. Keurentjes  says Mr. Kentridge’s and Mr. Linyekula’s themes of inclusion, exclusion, appropriation and cultural diversity “are very topical for us here.” Both men have used the opportunity to involve their collaborative partners and artists they support. Mr. Linyekula brought work from his Kinshasa center, Studios Kabako, including “Not Another Diva,” a vehicle for the South African singer Hlengiwe Lushaba, as well as his own “In Search of Dinozard” and the new “Congo.” (I wasn’t able to see Mr. Linyekula’s works because of scheduling, but during an informal post-performance conversation, he talked about his insistence on taking a work, “Parlement Debout,” to the southeast Amsterdam neighborhood that Ms. Keurentjes referred to. “Context is everything,” he said. “Dance is a form of storytelling that you write with the body.”)SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Has Social Media Shed Light on Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis?

Over the past two years conflict has escalated in North West and South West Cameroon. Cameroon is a bilingual country (English and French) and these two regions are the country’s English-speaking areas. The conflict started when lawyers and teachers held strikes over the increasing use of French in English courts and schools. Since then, what began as nonviolent protest has grown into a conflict that threatens to become a civil war. Given this unfolding situation, researchers have examined how various groups – including the government, Anglophone activists, media organisations and citizens – used social media to report on events. Cameroon has a history of suppression and control over the media. The government only allowed independent mass media to operate from the 1990s and most media was state-owned. In this context, social media could provide the opportunity to expand coverage of certain issues in a way that wasn’t possible before and in turn influence policy and perceptions.The indings of the study show that the actual impacts of activists’ and citizens’ attempts to garner international attention using Twitter – when they shared horrific images of killings and destruction – did not get the results they hoped for. And these attempts to increase awareness did not appear to reduce the violence, at least during the time of our study. However, there is growing international awareness with recent reports about human rights abuses and how the Cameroon crisis is one of the most neglected.SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION

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Investigating Human Rights Abuse Mining in Tanzania

Electronics companies, including Canon, Apple and Nokia, are re-evaluating their supply chains following reports they may be using gold extracted from a Tanzanian mine that has been criticised for environmental failures. Over the past 10 years, at the North Mara goldmine – which is operated by London-listed Acacia Mining – there have been more than a dozen killings of intruding locals by security personnel. More recently, the Tanzanian government has imposed penalties on the mine and ordered the operators to build an alternative to its tailings reservoir, which is used to store the byproducts of mining. Under Tanzanian law, no mine should operate within 200 metres of a home or 100 metres of a farm, but Acacia told the Guardian it had not been able to meet this requirement. The company has built a wall in some areas, improved security training and introduced a grievance mechanism, which have led to a marked reduction in conflict over the past two years, but locals claimed there were still accidents and violence as a result of incursions, and toxic wastewater continued to seep from the mine into residential areas and waterways nearby.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Calls to Diversify Africa’s Biggest Company

Naspers Ltd.’s biggest shareholder is considering whether to reduce its 16.5 billion stake in Africa’s biggest company because of concern it’s overexposed to a single stock. South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund is being encouraged by its manager, the Public Investment Corp., to reduce its Naspers shareholding of about 16%, said three of the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private. Any decision is ultimately up to the GEPF. Naspers’s value has grown 72-fold since 2004 on the back of the success of an early-stage investment in Chinese games developer Tencent Holdings Ltd., which listed in Hong Kong that year. That’s turned Naspers, a Cape Town-based internet technology investor once focused on South African newspapers, into a $101 billion global entity. But it’s also made the company dependent on China, where it has little influence. The shares gained 2% in Johannesburg as Tencent gained in Hong Kong. “Naspers success is dependent on the Chinese government,” said Tahir Maepa, deputy general manager for members affairs of the Public Servants Association, whose 240,000-members make it the biggest labor union representing contributors to the GEPF. “It’s a huge risk, not only for the PIC, it’s a risk for the South African economy and the JSE,” he said, adding that the GEPF should “definitely” cut its stake.SOURCE:  BLOOMBERG

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What Renewable Energy And Home Repair Have In Common

A generation ago, wind and solar power were seen as fringe technologies with high operational costs and a limited footprint. Today, we are seeing utility-scale wind and solar installations all over the world that take up large swathes of land, including in Africa where renewable energy is providing low-cost and reliable power for the grid from Algeria to Zambia. While there is broad popular support for renewable energy as a cleaner and less carbon intensive alternative to diesel or oil-fired power projects, the construction and operation of solar and wind projects are not without local impacts. Developers are increasingly aware they need to work with local communities to address the concerns that are greatest to them. One example is the Hopefield wind farm in South Africa, where the developer invested in training and hiring local people to install solar water heaters, insulated ceilings, and improved wiring in more than 600 homes in the Saldanha Bay area, helping create jobs and support quality of life improvements that matched community priorities.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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The Wheels of Bashir’s Trial in Motion

Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir has appeared in public for the first time since his overthrow by the military following months of mass protests against his 30-year-long autocratic rule. Dressed in a white robe and turban, the toppled leader was seen on Sunday as he was escorted under heavy guard from a maximum security prison in Sudan’s capital Khartoum to the prosecutor’s office. There, prosecutors informed him he faced charges of “possessing foreign currency and acquiring suspicious and illicit wealth”.  He was given one week to raise objections, questioned on additional unspecified corruption charges, and taken back to Kobar prison. The moves against the 75-year-old former president triggered derision and scepticism from critics who dismissed it as an attempt by Sudan’s new military rulers to deflect attention from a recent bloody crackdown on protesters, as well as its reluctance to cede power to a civilian-led transitional administration. They also questioned the likelihood of al-Bashir receiving a fair trial in Sudan or being held accountable for the most egregious of charges against him.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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Why Do South Africans Mark Youth Day?

Youth Day in South Africa is commemorated every year on the 16th of June in remembrance of all the young people, mainly students, who lost their lives during the Soweto Uprisings. Students in the Johannesburg Township of Soweto took to the streets on the 16th of June in 1976 to stand up against the racist educational policies of the apartheid government as set out in the Bantu Education Act of 1953. The Bantu Education Act was one of the apartheid government’s most offensively racist laws that saw black students receive a lower quality of education, and black schools being controlled by the government with little to no funding. On the 16th of June in 1976, approximately 10,000 students were mobilized by the South African Student Movement’s Action Committee (SASMAC), with the support of the Black Consciousness Movement, to demonstrate peacefully by marching to the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. This peaceful protest turned violent when the police opened fire on students, killing many students including Hector Pietersen, shot and killed by the police. The photograph in which Pietersen was carried to the local clinic by fellow student, Mbuyisa Makhubu, and his sister, Antoinette Sithole, taken by political photographer, Sam Nzima, became the symbol of the uprisings. This led to a country-wide revolt against the government, and this led to an international outcry against South Africa. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Investing in Innovation and Smart Digital Growth in Africa

The African Development Bank and its partners havelaunched the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), designed to aid safety and expansion of digital financial transactions in Africa. The Fund, launched at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Government of Luxembourg, as initial contributors. Bank Vice President Pierre Guislain, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, said the goal is to ensure that at least 320 million more Africans, of which nearly 60% are women, have access to digital financial services. The fund will deploy $100 million in grants and $300 million in the form of debt from the Bank’s ordinary capital resources by 2030, to scale up electronic financial services for low-income communities. The interventions will be aligned to four pillars; infrastructure, including digital and interoperable payment systems; digital products and innovation; policy and regulatory reform and harmonisation; and capacity building. It will help to close the transaction gender gap between men and women.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Nigerian Children Used as Weapons

Three suicide bombers, two girls and a boy, killed 30 people and injured 39 others when they detonated explosives in Nigeria’s northeast. One of the bombers, detonated his explosive outside a cinema hall where soccer fans had gathered to watch a match on Sunday night in Konduga, a remote town in Borno State. At least 24 people died there according to the head of the rescue team of State emergency operations. A few kilometers from the hall, the girls, whose ages are unknown, blew themselves up and killed another six people and injured 17 others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Boko Haram terrorists have carried deadly attacks in Borno state, bombing mosques, markets and public places of gathering. Eight people died in a suicide bombing targeting worshippers in a mosque in Konduga in July 2018. The militant group has been known to recruit children kidnapped from towns and villages in northern Nigeria into their ranks to carry out suicide attacks.SOURCE: CNN

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Possible Case of Ebola in Kenya

A Kenyan official says health experts are investigating a hospital patient who has Ebola-like symptoms. Kericho County spokesman Timothy Kimei issued a statement saying the patient is in isolation and the hospital in western Kenya took precautions to ensure minimal contact with staff. It is not clear where the patient came from. Kenyan media report she had visited her spouse at the Kenyan-Ugandan border. Uganda last week reported two deaths from Ebola that had spread from eastern Congo where the current outbreak has caused more than 1,400 deaths since August last year.  Kenya has never experienced an Ebola outbreak and some Kenyan doctors have expressed concern about the country’s preparedness to manage the deadly virus.SOURCE: VOA

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A Week of No Internet in Ethiopia

Ethiopians are angry that the country’s text messaging service has been shut down since Thursday without any explanation. Internet blackouts, which began last Tuesday, are also still affecting many areas of the country. The state-run Ethio Telecom, the country’s only telecoms provider, has refused to comment on the outages. The closure of the services coincides with nationwide exams, which some say may be the reason for the shut down. The messaging app Telegram, which is popular among young Ethiopians, also remains inaccessible.  Besides the everyday inconvenience and frustration, it is having a bad effect on business. According to Neblocks, an organisation which monitors freedom of access to the internet, a one-day shutdown of the internet costs Ethiopia at least $4.5m. The outages a come at a time  when Ethiopia’s parliament approved a law to open up the telecommunications sector, allowing foreign operators access Africa’s second-most populous country. Control of information by the Ethiopian government has long been a contentious issue, so the opening up of the market will have ramifications on the economy and politics. At the moment Ethio Telecom provides voice, SMS and data services to more than 41 million customers – so there is scope to reach many more in a population of more than 100 million.SOURCE: BBC

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Is History Repeating itself in Algeria?

While tens of thousands of Algerians have been gathering for four months in the capital to demand sweeping political reforms, former fighters who led the last confrontation with the establishment have been warning people not to rock the boat. In the 1990s, they drove an uprising against the military after it cancelled a landmark multiparty election that Islamists were poised to win. This time they say protests could bring a repeat of the chaos and bloodshed their actions unleashed. Some 200,000 people died in Algeria’s decade-long civil war, leaving many Algerians fearful of radical change now that longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has given into the pressure from the streets and stepped down.Following Bouteflika’s departure in April, the protesters have been pressing for the exit of the entire elite in control since the North African country’s independence from France in 1962 – the same cause the jihadists took up arms for in 1991.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Duke of Sussex Reminds Leaders of their Debt to Angola

Prince Harry, has urged world governments to clear Angola of landmines, amplifying his late mother’s appeal. Princess Diana made landmine removal a focus of her humanitarian work, and drew the world’s attention to the Angolan situation after visiting Cuando Cubango province in January 1997. In a speech on Monday, Prince Harry reiterated the call to clear the southern African country of landmines, noting that the explosives do not only affect human lives, but also wildlife. Angola remains a hotbed of explosives which were laid in post-independence civil war. The situation has  left rural communities decimated, fearful and unable to make use of Angola’s natural gifts to produce food and income to thrive. The fear of landmines have rendered hundreds of thousands homeless in the southern African country, having been displaced during the civil war. Some 88,000 people in the country are estimated to be living with disabilities as a result of landmine injuries. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has been deployed in Angola for years to rid the country of the deadly explosives. Over the last 10 years the organization has returned almost 10 million square metres of cleared land to Angolan communities and cleared roads and river banks.SOURCE:  CGTN AFRICA

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Egypt and Israel Settle the Score

Egypt reached a settlement agreement with state-owned Israel Electric Corp. to pay a reduced fine for halting deliveries of natural gas, ending a dispute that started about seven years ago. The accord signed June 16 cuts the fine to $500 million from $1.7 billion after reaching “an amicable agreement” out of a “keenness to avail an environment attractive to investment,” Egypt’s oil ministry said Sunday in an emailed statement. Israel Electric, the state-owned utility, had sued Egyptian state entities after Egypt broke a contract signed in 2005 to supply the fuel. Israeli officials at the time said the termination could damage peace accords between the two nations. Egypt ultimately canceled gas exports to Israel in 2012 after a section of a pipeline that connects the two countries was repeatedly attacked by militants and, with its own reserves dwindling, it diverted supplies for domestic use.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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Rising Temperatures Force Namibia’s Hand

Drought-hit Namibia has authorised the sale of at least 1,000 wild animals – including elephants and giraffes – to limit loss of life and generate US$1.1 million for conservation. “Given that this year is a drought year, the [environment] ministry would like to sell various type of game species from various protected areas to protect grazing and at the same time to also generate much needed funding for parks and wildlife management,” the environment ministry said in a statement. They include 600 disease-free buffalos, 150 springbok, 65 oryx, 60 giraffes, 35 eland, 28 elephants, 20 impala and 16 kudus – all from national parks. The authorities declared a national disaster last month, and the meteorological services in the southern African nation estimate that some parts of the country faced the deadliest drought in as many as 90 years.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Meet the Culinary Creatives Shaking Up African Food

The African food scene is happening, and this profile of three very different chefs demonstrates the excitement and variety awaiting diners. South African chef and restauranteur Chris Erasmus believes that when it comes to food the process is just as important as the outcome, he specialises in the fine art of foraging and heritage food. In Lagos Gbubemi Fregene also know as Chef Fregz is determined to make Nigeria the continent’s number one food destination. Selassie Atadika wants to change the way you eat. Through her new movement: the nomadic dining experience, she encourages diners to ditch restaurants and move meals outside. Atadika worked across Africa with the UN for different agencies, her humanitarian work further proved to her how food ties communities together.

SOURCES: CNN

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Post-Colonial Congolese Architecture: Green, Local and Volcanic

After the end of Belgian rule, the Congo saw a dramatic shift in architecture as the new government sought a return to authenticity.  New structures incorporated reverence for ancient traditions while also attempting to display modern techniques and designs, and the results are fascinating.    Architecture in Congo has a strange, but fascinating identity. Post-colonial architecture was probably at its most exciting when Congolese architects found themselves in the middle of the massive political movement launched by Mobutu [Sese Seko] in Zaïre (former name of DR Congo). It was an interesting period as far as architecture was concerned.

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

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How Afrobeats’ Global Rise is Changing Carnival’s Rigid Genre Conventions

As the popularity of Afrobeats goes global, it has begun to filter into Caribbean Carnival events.  While purists try to preserve them as the domain of Soca, Afrobeats is gaining ground and contributing to a beautiful melting pot of tunes. West African afrobeats hits, like “Drogba” by Afro B, and “Soco” by Wizkid, have been making their way into Caribbean carnival celebrations for years now.

SOURCES: OKAYAFRICA

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Meet Kampire, the East African DJ Bringing New Rhythms to Dance Music

Get to know Kampire, the East African DJ, whose exciting dance music is influenced by her travels across the continent and collaborations with underground artists. The DJ, who grew up in Zambia before moving to Kampala in Uganda, has built a reputation for her energetic DJ gigs, which are filled with the most innovative sounds from Africa and beyond: Afro-house, Latin bass, St Lucian soca, Congolese soukous, baile funk, kudoro, gqom, and other, currently nameless and undefinable genres coming out of studios in Kampala. 

SOURCES: DAZED

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Travel-app Inventor is Revolutionising Travel across Africa

Cherae Robinson was born and raised in the USA but her heart is firmly in Africa. Named by Forbes.com as one of the 10 emerging women entrepreneurs to watch in Africa and a woman to watch by the United Nations Foundation, she’s founder of Tastemakers Africa – a mobile app for booking adventurous trips recommended by local movers and shakers. Her research has taken her from fishing villages in Senegal for the Forage, Create, Connect trip to sampling the Nigerian dance craze shoki in the clubs of Lagos, which inspired a tour of the city’s live indie-music venues, and visiting The Photo Studio, a hangout of Accra’s creative set run by DJ Steloo. A fanatic foodie, Robinson has designed some delicious tours such as the seafood and honey- wine tasting trip to Essaouira in Morocco and a food crawl through Durban in South Africa.

SOURCES: CNTRAVELLER

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Why South Africa Should be Your Safari Choice

Global travel site Big 7 Travel has just announced the top safari lodges in South Africa in 2019. The results were compiled using reader feedback, user reviews, previous media coverage, and travel experts. From treetop tents to cave suites, these are SA’s most unique and luxurious places to stay for a special safari experience.Londolozi is situated on the Sand River in the heart of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve within the famous Greater Kruger National Park. Each of the five camps here have their own distinctive vibe, yet all are beautiful. Londolozi’s Private Granite Suites feature outdoor bathtubs where you can watch elephants play in the river while you soak.

SOURCES: GETAWAY

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African Stops in a New Epic Adventure

Airbnb Adventures is a new collection of bucket-list worthy multi-day experiences hosted by local experts that take intimate groups to off-the-beaten-track locations and immerses them in unique cultures and communities. The expansion of Airbnb Experiences that provides opportunity for daring guests to channel their inner Phileas Fogg and travel Around the World in 80 Days. This epic voyage across six continents joins other Adventures now available to book through hosts on Airbnb ranging from tracking lions on foot with Sabache Warriors in Kenya to hunting for UFOs with Nate in Arizona. Introducing guests to natural wonders, cultures and communities that are hard to reach on their own, Airbnb Adventures are led by local experts and meet certain quality and safety standards. 

SOURCES: GETAWAY

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Balling on a Budget in these African Destinations

Springtime is not only one of the most beautiful time of the year, but it is also the most affordable. After the harsh cold weather that winter brings, a little sunshine at a resort can do wonders for the soul. Seychelles is known for its idyllic beaches, delicious seafood dishes and nature. Mauritius is one of those places people go to relax and unwind. Most travellers love resorts that offer an all-inclusive rate.

SOURCES: IOL TRAVEL

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Meet Madagascar’s Wildlife this August

The ‘Great Red Island’ is one of the planet’s great wildlife pageants, populated by mischievous lemurs, dancing sifakas, dazzling birds, mysterious aye-ayes, bug-eyed chameleons, cat-like fossas, giraffe-necked weevils… the animal cast list is vast and dizzyingly varied. Dry and cool August is prime time to witness this natural diversity, and to explore the spiny forests, jagged tsingy rock formations and fine beaches. It’s also the season for whale watching, when humpbacks pass Île Sainte Marie off the east coast, and perhaps for witnessing famadihana (turning of the bones) ceremonies, honouring and remembering the dead.

SOURCES: LONELY PLANET

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Pan-African Firm to Invest in Infrastructure on the Continent

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to Africa’s growth; its COO, Carole Wainaina, talks to African Business about how Africa50 is building a team to support its mission and describes some of its priority projects in the energy, ICT and transport sectors. Infrastructure is essential for development and affects industrialisation at all levels, be it building up traditional manufacturing, which is a priority, to the fourth industrial revolution based around ICT and innovative technologies. It helps diversify production, expand trade, raise productivity, and lower costs. Road, airports and ports open and connect markets; telecommunications enable information and services; water and sanitation improve health; and electricity binds it all together. In many African countries expansion of traditional infrastructure is unlikely to keep pace with technological advances, so innovative technologies, mostly in ICT, must bypass existing constraints by leveraging alternative forms of tech-enabled infrastructure.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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What the Most Admired Brands in Africa Tell Us about Consumer Behaviour

Overall, African brands faltered to an all-time low 14% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. Faced with a relentless focus on the African opportunity and investment by non-African brands, Africa’s share of the most admired brands has been rapidly declining over the past 3 years from a high of 25% in 2013/4 to lows of 16% in 2015/6, 16% in 2016/7 and 17% in 2017/8.  Non-African brands have entrenched their positions in Africa, with North American brands, dominated exclusively by United States of America brands (28%), leading with a growth of 17% versus 2017/8. The strength of USA brands was boosted by the entry and/or re-entry of stalwart American brands such as #71 Levi’s, #91 Chevrolet and Pepsi’s Miranda at #80, who are all among the 20 new entrants. European brands (41%) are up by 2,5% and Asian brands (17%) down by 10%, round up the continental spread of brands Africans admire. The Brand Africa 100 rankings are based on a survey among a representative sample of respondents 18 years and older, conducted in 25 countries across Africa. Covering all African economic regions, collectively these countries account for an estimated 80% of the continent’s population and 75% of the GDP.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Building the First Waste to Energy Facility in Africa

Ethiopia’s largest rubbish dump Koshe was for almost 50 years, home to hundreds of people who collect and resell rubbish trucked in from around the capital Addis Ababa. It, however, made headlines last year when it killed about 114 people, compelling the government to rethink an alternative use for the site which is said to be the size of 36 football pitches. Ethiopia has since turned the site into a new waste-to-energy plant via the Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project which is the first of its kind in Africa. This forms part of efforts to revolutionise waste management practices in the country. The plant is designed to generate electric power from solid waste collected from the capital. Incinerating 1,400tn of waste a day, the plant is meant to contribute 185GWh of electricity a year to the national grid. But disputes which was between EEP and two contractors, Cambridge Industries and its partner, China National Electric Engineering Company led to the plant ceasing operations after its inauguration.

SOURCES: CONSTRUCTION REVIEW ONLINE

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Lagos Becoming Go-to Place for Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa

The fading facades of century-old buildings in a neighborhood of the Nigerian megacity of Lagos house a vibrant technology cluster that’s caught the eye of Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The Yaba area, home to the Yaba College of Technology and the University of Lagos, is an emerging technology ecosystem — from fewer than 10 startups in 2013 to more than 60 today, including businesses like booking site Hotels.ng. It also hosts digital labs for Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., and Stanbic IBTC, the local subsidiary of Africa’s largest lender. Lagos, like other major cities such as Nairobi and Accra, is at the height of this exciting expansion in innovation across tech, with Yaba quickly finding itself at the center,” said Chimdindu Aneke, program manager of platform partnerships for sub-Saharan Africa at Facebook, which last year launched a hub space in the neighborhood.

SOURCES: BLOOMBERG

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East Africa Plans to Increase Spending on Infrastructure Projects

But the question many ask is whether those countries can afford it? Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will unveil plans to fund the building of more roads, railways and power plants, as well as expand services such as health care and education, for the year starting July 1. In most cases, this will raise budget gaps as a percentage of gross domestic product, and increase borrowing requirements. Spending will probably climb about 10% in Kenya in the next fiscal year, 17% in Uganda and 11% in Rwanda, while it will be broadly flat in Tanzania, the nations’ respective governments have said in forecasts. While the governments forecast that revenue will increase by double digits next year, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all have plans to approach the debt markets to help raise the funds to finance their deficits. GDP in East Africa will probably expand 5.9% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020, according to the African Development Bank, making it the fastest-growing region on the continent. 

SOURCES: CGTN AFRICA

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Remote Classrooms to Improve Higher Learning in Africa

Unicaf University is an African institution founded in 2012 in Zambia with programs in fields like business, education and health care management. Offering degrees largely online, with some blended learning options, Unicaf reaches 18,000 students across the continent, many of them working adults. Unicaf offers the convenience of anytime, anywhere study — as long as the internet service is sufficient. Initially, Unicaf was essentially a distance-learning platform, taking courses offered by British and American universities, translating them to an online environment and marketing them to Africans. Partner institutions set admissions standards, approve hiring and determine whether students meet graduation requirements. The cost of a degree, about $4,000, is not cheap by African standards, but it is within reach of the region’s growing middle class, and many students receive scholarships. Ms. Kamizi, a former safety worker in a mine, got a full ride after she won a Unicaf-sponsored business competition with an idea for manufacturing low-cost sanitary napkins. Africa’s longstanding public universities have wrestled with the pressure to expand capacity without sacrificing quality, and not always successfully, said Jamil Salmi, a higher education consultant and former World Bank official from Morocco. Such universities have grown up, but they vary in caliber and can be costly. Going abroad to study is an option for only a select few.

SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Solving Nigeria’s 900,000 Housing Deficit With Blockchain

Rising population, rapid urban migration and uncoordinated policy direction of the government are some of the critical factors deepening the housing gap. Because of the scale of this deficit, innovative investment solutions are all-important right now. Crowdfunding is a permissionless way of raising money. So far, the trend of pooling capital from several retail investors to finance a new or existing business venture has proven successful in Nigeria. The growth of AgricTech platforms has provided a template for other poorly funded areas of the country. Thrive Agric, which crowdfunds investments for smallholder farmers, have funded more 14, 000 farmers with over ₦180 million ($500,000) raised in February, 2019 alone; and providing returns of up to 20 per cent for retail investors. Currently, there are up to ten different crowdfunding startups providing value in the agric space. Tokenisation on the blockchain makes it possible to represent ownership in a property on an open, distributed digital ledger. Simply, it means converting rights to an asset into a digital token. Hypothetically, say an apartment of 50, 000 square metres cost N30,000,000. That can be converted into 500,000 tokens (a token representing 10 square metres). Though blockchain is nascent and there are still few regulations around the industry, there are some apparent advantages to tokenising crowdfunded real estate projects.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Difficulty Repatriating Revenues Earned in African Air Travel

The International Air Transport Association says that a number of African countries are holding up funds by airline operators as a result of foreign exchange crunch. At its annual General Meeting in South Korea early June 2019, IATA said as at the ending of March 2019, five African countries were holding a total of $413 million meant for airlines. Amongst them are Eritrea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Angola and Algeria. Eritrea is holding a total of $73 million of such funds with six million of the chunk belonging to Ethiopian Airlines. Other airlines impacted by the same situation include Egypt Air, Turkish Air and Fly Dubai. Reports say the financial difficulty had forced Qatar Airways and Luthansa to abandon the route. According to the IATA, Zimbabwe holds USD 192 million, Sudan 84 million, Algeria 80 million, Angola seven million.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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Getting Around Africa’s Logistical Nightmare

Industries can make a variety of goods, but they struggle to transport them safely and quickly to customers without established networks. According to global property consultancy Knight Frank, the cost of transport takes up 50-75% of the retail price of goods. But there is hope, from both foreign investment and home-grown solutions. For example, in Nigeria, digital start-up Kobo360 developed an app that revolutionises cargo delivery by making sure that everyone in the supply chain is connected to ensure the safety and accountability of cargo in transit. n the Senegalese capital, Dakar, more and more people are shopping online, and getting goods delivered to your front door is a growing trend amongst shoppers. Quicarry is a service that delivers packages in Senegal from international ecommerce websites, particularly targeting young adults. There are other start-ups in Senegal also trying to offer new solutions, such as delivery app Paps, which aims to deliver anything you want to your front door in half an hour. But technology isn’t enough to fix Africa’s logistics problems – more support is also needed to help new businesses get off the ground.

SOURCES: BBC

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Will Nationalising Part of the Kenyan Flag-carrier Lift it Out of Debt?

Kenya Airways Plc. is willing to operate under a state-owned holding company after the troubled airline failed in its bid to jointly run the country’s main airport. Lawmakers in the East African nation are expected to issue alternative proposals, including the possible partial nationalization of Kenya Airways, after they last month rejected the airline’s proposal to operate Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the state-owned Kenya Airports Authority. The airline, which reported a $59 million full-year loss, is proposing a model similar to Emirates Airline and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, which operate as units of state-owned holding companies. Such an arrangement would enable it to double its fleet in five years. Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% owned by the government, is also on the hunt for a chief executive officer after Sebastian Mikosz said he would step down before the end of his three-year contract.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Being Comfortable in their Own Skin

To commemorate World Albinism Awareness Day on June 13, Nigerian photographer Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko was inspired to create a photo series and exhibition to capture the beauty of people with albinism. Ayeni-Babaeko spent more than one year working closely with members of the Albino Foundation. The result is a series of powerful and thought provoking images titled “White Ebony,” in conjunction with SMO Contemporary Arts, showing in Lagos until July 19. Persons with albinism often have yellowish or white hair and skin, the exact color depending on how much melanin their body produces. It is a genetic condition that leads to little or no pigment in the eyes, skin and hair. In countries such as Malawi and Tanzania they can be kidnapped and dismembered for body parts, fetching up to $75,000, according to a United Nations report. The UN also warned in 2016 that persons with albinism were facing extinction in Malawi, which has around 10,000 people with albinism, the agency said. Taiwo Olateju is peering at a photo of himself and his twin brother and memories of a dark time come flooding back. He remembers when he considered suicide because of his skin color. Olateju says he is afraid to walk on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria, where he works as a model and fashion designer, because of these widespread superstitious beliefs.SOURCE:  CNN

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Africa Now has the Highest Prevalence of Child Labor in the World

Beate Andrees, Chief of the International Labor Organization’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch, told VOA that children trapped in the worst forms of child labor, such as debt bondage and prostitution, suffer irreparable physical and psychological harm. Children as young as five are among the 152 million victims of child labor. Many of them work long hours, for little or no pay, under abusive, slave-like conditions. Despite this worrying trend, Andrees said she was heartened to see the African Union taking decisive measures to tackle this problem.  She noted the AU is developing a ten-year action plan to accelerate the elimination of child labor in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The SDG’s call for the elimination of child labor by 2025.  However, if the current pace of reduction in child labor is maintained, Andrees warns this mark will be missed by a wide margin.  SOURCE: VOA

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Thousands of Eritreans Wage a Social Media Campaign to Force Change

They hope that the overthrow of neighbouring Sudan’s long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir will give impetus to their efforts to oust President Isaias Afwerki. The campaign – under the hashtag #Enough in Tigrinya, Arabic and other Eritrean languages – has been driven by young Eritreans living mostly in Europe and the US because of repression in their home country. It has won the support of a cross range of people – from veterans of the struggle for independence to music stars like Robel Michel and Yohannes Tikabo, popularly known as Wedi Tikabo.Washington DC resident Amanuel Dawa was among those who started the campaign, challenging people to break their fear by identifying themselves and speaking out against Africa’s only one-party state.”I started this initiative because I needed to know how long we would keep hiding our identities in this fight. The main agenda was to make ourselves visible and convey our message to the people of Eritrea as well as to the government,” Mr Amanuel told BBC Tigrinya. The leader of the youth wing of the ruling party in the UK, Sirak Bahlibi, has described it as probably the “worst smear campaign to be ever waged on social media”, while the pro-government TesfaNews website has accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group of being behind the #Enough campaign – a charge denied by Mr Amanuel.SOURCE: BBC

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Beating the Bulge in South Africa

Data from South Africa has shown that over two thirds of young women are overweight and obese. This predisposes them to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Most women are not exercising enough, and consumption of processed and calorie-dense foods and high amounts of sugar is common. It was this knowledge that sparked the establishment of the Health Life Trajectories Initiative. It’s being run in South Africa, India, China and Canada and aims to provide interventions that can help young women stay healthy before, during and after pregnancy. In South Africa, this randomised controlled trial will provide one-on-one support as well as peer group sessions to over 6000 young women. The idea is provide them with information, and to help them set and maintain goals for healthier lifestyles.SOURCE:  FORBES AFRICA

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Sexual Predators Brought to Book

Hundreds of men in Uganda have been jailed for sexual offences against girls and women during a month of special court sessions to clear a backlog of cases. Between November and December last year, 414 men and nine women were found guilty during 13 trials held in selected courts in 13 districts around the country, according to the justice, law and order sector, a body that brings together government ministries working on legal matters. The perpetrators were handed sentences ranging from community service to up to 50 years in jail. Activists and campaigners have welcomed the convictions, which they described as “decisive action” that sends a strong message. “We applaud the gesture of special court sessions on GBV [gender-based violence]. Convicting more than 400 perpetrators is an exciting and welcomed landmark,” said Simon Richard Mugenyi, advocacy and communications manager at Reproductive Health Uganda. The Ugandan police crime report recorded 14,985 cases of defilement (sexual assault on a person under 18) and 1,335 rape cases in 2017. The report said prosecutions for gender-based violence needed to be handled with greater sensitivity towards survivors.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Whose Tweet is it Anyways?

South Africa has experienced an upsurge of Twitter bots in recent years, aimed at influencing political discourse and public opinion with seemingly no way to recognise them when they tweet in a language other than English. However, a new tool will allow the detection of these bots, regardless of what language is used. A Twitter bot is a type of software that controls a Twitter account and can autonomously perform actions such as tweeting, re-tweeting, liking, following, unfollowing, and direct messaging. A new application, developed by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland and Linnaeus University in Sweden, is able to detect auto-generated tweets independent of the language used relying on machine learning. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that uses methods of data analysis to perform a task without using explicit instructions but patterns and inference instead.SOURCE:  MAIL & GUARDIAN

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How the Spread of Ebola Could Have been Avoided

The DRC is where the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. And the country is no stranger to this menace – this is the ninth time it has had to contain the disease. Still, this outbreak is the second largest on record – and the second to have crossed into another country. That a new outbreak of Ebola virus would happen was a question of when, not if. Yet a situation as dire as the West African outbreak should not repeat itself given that many problems were solved in 2014-16. For starters, a vaccine with 97.5% efficacy should stop new outbreaks in their tracks. Simple hospital laboratory tests to diagnose Ebola have also been distributed across Africa, the GeneXpert machine. New cases can be rapidly detected if early symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, are recognised. Even a solution for screening suspected cases in the community or among travellers at border crossings is available. Any new Ebola outbreak should, in theory, never have involved more than tens of people. Today, the numbers in the Congo and Uganda stand at 2,071 cases and 1,396 deaths. But the latest outbreak brings a new set of challenges. There have been armed attacks against healthcare workers and treatment centres have been firebombed.SOURCE:  THE CONVERSATION

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Mali in Mourning

On Sunday night, armed assailants attacked the ethnic Dogon village of Sobane-Kou, in the Mopti region of central Mali, killing dozens of people. Survivors said the attackers surrounded the village of roughly 300 inhabitants, setting homes ablaze and slaughtering farm animals in an hours-long assault that also left 24 children dead. The latest attack has left the government reeling, with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita warning that his country now faces an existential crisis as he called on Malians to unite to “allow our nation to survive, because this is a question of survival”. After the March attack, the prime minister and his government resigned amid intense criticism over the failure to deal with the deteriorating security situation. Analysts told Al Jazeera that unless there was dialogue between all parties and accountability for victims of attacks then community grievances would continue to flare and perpetuate the cycle of violence.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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Solving Nigeria’s 900,000 Housing Deficit With Blockchain

Rising population, rapid urban migration and uncoordinated policy direction of the government are some of the critical factors deepening the housing gap. Because of the scale of this deficit, innovative investment solutions are all-important right now. Crowdfunding is a permissionless way of raising money. So far, the trend of pooling capital from several retail investors to finance a new or existing business venture has proven successful in Nigeria. The growth of AgricTech platforms has provided a template for other poorly funded areas of the country. Thrive Agric, which crowdfunds investments for smallholder farmers, have funded more 14, 000 farmers with over ₦180 million ($500,000) raised in February, 2019 alone; and providing returns of up to 20 per cent for retail investors. Currently, there are up to ten different crowdfunding startups providing value in the agric space. Tokenisation on the blockchain makes it possible to represent ownership in a property on an open, distributed digital ledger. Simply, it means converting rights to an asset into a digital token. Hypothetically, say an apartment of 50, 000 square metres cost N30,000,000. That can be converted into 500,000 tokens (a token representing 10 square metres). Though blockchain is nascent and there are still few regulations around the industry, there are some apparent advantages to tokenising crowdfunded real estate projects.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM

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The Youngest Goalkeeper to Keep a Clean Sheet at the Women’s World Cup

The Super Falcons earned their first victory at the 2019 Women’s World Cup yesterday with a 2-0 win over South Korea. It was a necessary second game win for the Nigerian team, after suffering a loss to Norway in their first match-up. The goals against South Korea came from an own-goal and a wonderful show of pace and strength from 24-year-old Nigerian forward, Asisat Oshoala. But, there was another star of the match: Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie. After the defeat against Norway, Nigerian coach Thomas Dennerby opted to replace the veteran goalie Tochukwu Oluehi with the new youngster, who at only 18-years-old became the youngest keeper to keep a clean sheet at the Women’s World Cup, according to the popular football stats page OptaJoe. Nnadozie stepped up and made some essential saves during the game to keep the South Korean team at bay. There was only one instance where her clean sheet may have gotten lost, a play in which a South Korean goal was ruled offside. The 2-0 win puts the Super Falcons in good form as they prepare to face the hosts France in their final group stage match. OptaJoe also notes that, with their win over South Korea, the Nigerian team become the first ever African side to win their second group stage game at a Women’s World cup.SOURCE: OKAYAFRICA

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African Solutions to African Problems

African leaders have called on other African States and friends of Africa to support the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund which is an initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation an agency of the United Nations. The call was made at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Africa Development Bank in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema urged his fellow African leaders to lend a helping hand so that the continent can get the needed support. African and non-regional donors pledged $17 million to replenish the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, an initiative which has been lauded for providing innovative solutions for African agriculture and food systems. Officially launched at the 38th session of the Food and Agricultural Organisation meeting in June 2013, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund aims to support countries experiencing food insecurity. 41 countries have so far benefited from the assistance. But the continent’s leaders want an even greater commitment to reach more beneficiaries. The bank is fully aware of the challenges the continent faces in the area of food security and agriculture.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Motorcycle Taxis are Part of a Futuristic Tech-enabled Lagos

Some consider motorcycle taxis dangerous, but venture capitalists are investing millions in these ride-hailing startups. While the Lagos State government does not officially promote motorbike taxis, growing demand for ways to reduce maddeningly long commute times is making an increasing number of people jump on the backs of two-wheeled taxis in Nigeria. Tech companies are now trying to make it easier for riders to link up with motorcycle taxis no matter where these urban passengers may be. Last year, several ride-hailing applications designed to connect riders with motorcycle taxis were launched such as the Gokada app. Residents in Lagos call these two-wheeled taxis “okadas”, because they are so much faster than cars. Okada is the name of Nigeria’s first private commercial airline, Okada Air. During those early years, okadas got a bad reputation because of reckless operators and gruesome accidents. Back then, the number of broken bones and bloody limbs grew so fast that local media nicknamed a section of the National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi the “okada ward”. Today, riding okadas is a little safer because Lagos State restricts them to certain inner streets.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Chefs across Africa are Pushing the Envelope when it Comes to Food

Whether it’s bringing foraging to the forefront of the culinary landscape or finding ways to make familiar flavors stand out, three African chefs are taking cuisine on the continent to new heights. South African chef and restauranteur Chris Erasmus believes that when it comes to food the process is just as important as the outcome, he specialises in the fine art of foraging and heritage food. His philosophy of “being conscious” evident not only in the menu at his award- winning restaurant ‘Foliage,’ but in how he runs it. In Lagos Gbubemi Fregene also know as Chef Fregz is determined to make Nigeria the continent’s number one food destination. After studying at one of the top culinary schools in the world, Le Cordon Blu in Paris, Fregene moved back to Nigeria and now he’s one of the most sought after chefs in the country. His speciality is combining western ingredients with traditional African dishes which has proved a big hit, but his dream is to take Nigerian cuisine global. Selassie Atadika wants to change the way you eat. Through her new movement: the nomadic dining experience, she encourages diners to ditch restaurants and move meals outside. Atadika worked across Africa with the UN for different agencies, her humanitarian work further proved to her how food ties communities together.SOURCE: CNN

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Delayed Peace Deal Affects South Sudanese Refugees

Uganda hosts Africa’s largest refugee population – one and a quarter million people, with two thirds having fled conflict in South Sudan. Last year’s peace deal raised hopes for some South Sudanese that they could soon return home. But the fragile peace has discouraged many from leaving Uganda’s refugee camps, despite struggles for adequate aid. Conflict, hunger and disease forced nearly 700,000 people to flee South Sudan to become refugees in neighbouring countries in 2017. More than 70 percent of those fled in the first half of 2017, when multiple military offensives occurred in Upper Nile, Unity, Jonglei, and the Greater Equatoria region. Since 2013, over 4.2 million people – about one in three South Sudanese – have been displaced within the country. More than 2.2 million people are now refugees in countries across the region, including Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.SOURCE:  VOA

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Egyptian Artifact Shouldn’t be on Auction List

Authorities are trying to stop the auction of a statue of Tutankhamun’s head at Christie’s auction house in London next month after concerns were raised that the bust might have been stolen from the Karnak temple in Luxor. The statue, a brown quartzite head of the young pharaoh, which portrays him as the ancient god Amun, is expected to raise more than £4m at auction on 4 July. But Egyptian officials have called on Christie’s to prove the statue left the country legally. The 28.5cm-high statue is more than 3,000 years old and “exudes strength and serenity”, according to the Christie’s listing. It shows the head of Amun with the “slightly drooping lower lips, and almond-shaped, slanted eyes with a deep depression between the eyes and eyebrows” of Tutankhamun. The listing says similar representations of Amun with Tutankhamun’s facial features were carved for the temple of Karnak in upper Egypt. Egyptian officials fear the statue was taken from the Karnak temple complex, a vast ancient site in the southern city of Luxor.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Creating an Educational Model Designed for Africa

African Leadership Universities have disrupted the traditional balance of power in the university upside down by making the experience student-centric instead of professor-centric. Ghanaian entrepreneur Fred Swaniker has examined what has changed over the last several hundred years in university development, and designed a university that takes advantage of technology and the proliferation of information that was not so readily available in the past.  With the internet making straight factual information so accessible, the role of the professor and the traditional text book is diminished. Hence, Swaniker’s educational philosophy involves self-directed student learning and students learning from one another, a cornerstone of Stanford University’s MBA programme from which Swaniker graduated. Instead of presenting students with a backwards focused menu of subject areas from which to choose, students define the global challenge that they wish to address in the future.  One student is looking at urbanization, and the challenges that Africa’s rapid urbanization will create over the next few decades. This means that the student must master concepts in housing, education, public health, resource management, etc.  Students are also then required to intern within an organization that addresses their area of concern, which provides a pragmatic validation of the academic area of interest. Students then return to the classroom with real world understanding of their area of interest, and can re-calibrate their understanding of the subject matter accordingly, including the effectiveness of their approach to solving this challenge.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM

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Mapping Drought Patterns in Africa for 2019

Failed rains across eastern Africa, southern Africa, and the Horn of Africa are seeing another dire season for farmers, increasing food prices and driving up the aid needs of tens of millions of already vulnerable people across the three regions. More than 45 million people will struggle to find enough food across 14 countries in 2019, many feeling the compounded effects of years of drought. It’s the second time in three years that an El Niño event has disrupted weather patterns. In 2017 – a year in which the UN labelled the crisis the worst in decades – some 38 million people were in need. Drought again in 2018 was followed by significantly below-average rains at the beginning of this year – down by 50 percent in parts of southern Africa. In the Horn and eastern Africa, delayed rains finally arrived in May, allowing some regrowth of pasture for grazing. But it has not been enough to offset the damage to people’s livelihoods and overall food security. The UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund has released $45 million to encourage major donors to do more to combat the effects of drought in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.SOURCE: THE NEW HUMANITARIAN

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In Loving Memory of Revered Kenyan Author

Echoes of the award-winning novel The River and the Source continue to reverberate almost eight years after the death of its author Margaret Atieno Ogola. US tech giant Google honoured the late novelist, paediatrician, and human rights advocate with a doodle on what would have been her 60th birthday. “Happy to celebrate Kenyan award-winning author, activist and doctor, the late Dr Margaret Ogola, author of The River and the Source,” wrote Google on Twitter. A doodle is an aimless or casual scribble, design, or sketch on topics that happen to be flowing in a writer’s mind. According to Google, the doodles represent a “fun, surprising and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists”.SOURCE:  QUARTZ AFRICA

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East Africa Plans to Increase Spending on Infrastructure Projects

But the question many ask is whether those countries can afford it? Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will unveil plans to fund the building of more roads, railways and power plants, as well as expand services such as health care and education, for the year starting July 1. In most cases, this will raise budget gaps as a percentage of gross domestic product, and increase borrowing requirements. Spending will probably climb about 10% in Kenya in the next fiscal year, 17% in Uganda and 11% in Rwanda, while it will be broadly flat in Tanzania, the nations’ respective governments have said in forecasts. While the governments forecast that revenue will increase by double digits next year, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania all have plans to approach the debt markets to help raise the funds to finance their deficits. GDP in East Africa will probably expand 5.9% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020, according to the African Development Bank, making it the fastest-growing region on the continent. SOURCE:  CGTN AFRICA

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Hot Off the African Runway

Fashionistas have been parading through Senegal’s capital, Dakar, over the last week to see the latest African creations, with futuristic designs from Congo-Brazzaville the talk of the town. Dakar has a fashion hub in Africa since Senegalese designer and entrepreneur Adama Paris started Dakar Fashion Week in 2002. Renowned designers and new talents – like Queen Tawa (above left) – were part of the line-up. A young singer from Congo-Brazzaville, Queen Tawa recently launched her label Liputa Swagga – Afro-futuristic extravaganza at its best. Other designers launching their new collections came from Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Morocco, Niger – and also included home-grown talents such as Rama Diaw. SOURCE: BBC

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A Landmark Victory for Africa’s LGBTQ Movements

Botswana’s High Court has overturned a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual same-sex relations saying that the legislation was discriminatory, unconstitutional and against the public interest. “A democratic society is one that embraces tolerance, diversity and open-mindedness,” Justice Michael Leburu said, noting that discriminatory law not only serves as a detriment to LGBTQ people, but holds back all of society. The packed court erupted in cheers of joy upon hearing the verdict. Under section 164 of Botswana’s Penal Code, “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature,” was an offense that carried a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment. Section 167 made “acts of gross indecency” — whether in public or private — a punishable offense, with up to two years in prison. The case was brought to court in March by Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a 21-year-old student at the University of Botswana, who argued that society had changed and that homosexuality was more widely accepted, local media reported. The ruling comes just a month after Kenya’s high court upheld its laws criminalizing homosexuality.SOURCE: CNN

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Lagos Becoming Go-to Place for Tech in Sub-Saharan Africa

The fading facades of century-old buildings in a neighborhood of the Nigerian megacity of Lagos house a vibrant technology cluster that’s caught the eye of Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The Yaba area, home to the Yaba College of Technology and the University of Lagos, is an emerging technology ecosystem — from fewer than 10 startups in 2013 to more than 60 today, including businesses like booking site Hotels.ng. It also hosts digital labs for Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., and Stanbic IBTC, the local subsidiary of Africa’s largest lender. Lagos, like other major cities such as Nairobi and Accra, is at the height of this exciting expansion in innovation across tech, with Yaba quickly finding itself at the center,” said Chimdindu Aneke, program manager of platform partnerships for sub-Saharan Africa at Facebook, which last year launched a hub space in the neighborhood.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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The Guardian Says It’s Uncovered the Real Reason Russia is Interested in Africa

Russia is seeking to bolster its presence in at least 13 countries across Africa by building relations with existing rulers, striking military deals, and grooming a new generation of “leaders” and undercover “agents”, leaked documents reveal. The mission to increase Russian influence on the continent is being led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman based in St Petersburg who is a close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. The documents show the scale of Prigozhin-linked recent operations in Africa, and Moscow’s ambition to turn the region into a strategic hub. Multiple firms linked to the oligarch, including Wagner, are known by employees as the “Company”. Its activities are coordinated with senior officials inside Russia’s foreign and defence ministries, the documents suggest. The leaked documents were obtained by the Dossier Center, an investigative unit based in London. The centre is funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian businessman and exiled Kremlin critic.  A map from December 2018 seen by the Guardian shows the level of cooperation between the “Company” and African governments, country by country. Symbols indicate military, political and economic ties, police training, media and humanitarian projects, and “rivalry with France”. Five is the highest level; one is the lowest. The closest relations are with CAR, Sudan and Madagascar – all put at five. Libya, Zimbabwe and South Africa are listed as four, according to the map, with South Sudan at three, and DRC, Chad and Zambia at two.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Will Nationalising Part of the Kenyan Flag-carrier Lift it Out of Debt?

Kenya Airways Plc. is willing to operate under a state-owned holding company after the troubled airline failed in its bid to jointly run the country’s main airport. Lawmakers in the East African nation are expected to issue alternative proposals, including the possible partial nationalization of Kenya Airways, after they last month rejected the airline’s proposal to operate Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with the state-owned Kenya Airports Authority. The airline, which reported a $59 million full-year loss, is proposing a model similar to Emirates Airline and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, which operate as units of state-owned holding companies. Such an arrangement would enable it to double its fleet in five years. Kenya Airways, which is 48.9% owned by the government, is also on the hunt for a chief executive officer after Sebastian Mikosz said he would step down before the end of his three-year contract.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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BBC’s Africa Editor on Sudan’s Show and Tell

“It must have seemed like a good idea to somebody, although I cannot imagine why. The plan was to show us how terribly the protesters had behaved. If the world could see what they were really like they would understand that the regime had no choice but to send in the militia. The health ministry minder told us to follow him so that we could see the ransacked laboratory: smashed sample tubes and more scattered files. The spokesman for the ministry, Hassan Abudulla, said this had all been the work of the protesters. They had broken in and destroyed equipment. He seemed to me to be speaking from a pre-prepared script. Our tour moved on to a medical warehouse where rows of medicines were stacked, many marked with the word “Release”. This was to show us that contrary to opposition claims the militia was not preventing the distribution of badly needed medicines. Next stop was Omdurman, across the Nile and past yet more jeeploads of militia bristling with guns and rocket propelled grenades. The RSF looks more like an army of occupation than an internal security force. There was a brief surge of hope when the African Union suspended Sudan last week and Mr Abiy set out on his mediation mission. But the generals have held their nerve. In particular, the commander of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – known as “Hemeti” – is thought to be pushing a hard line, confident that he has the support of key regional players in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.”SOURCE: BBC

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Why there Can’t be Two Bulls in Senegalese Politics

Soon after Macky Sall was re-elected for a second, and final, presidential term he signed a decree that scrapped the office of the Prime Minister. The argument for this decision was that it would simplify the decision-making process and boost efficiency within the executive. Having changed Prime Ministers three times, between 2012 and 2014, this move may not come as a surprise. But some see it as an overreach, designed to concentrate more power in the hands of the president, and therefore problematic. The office of the Prime Minister has often been seen as a potential threat to the Presidency. The Prime Minister is usually second in command of both the government and the president’s party. This makes them a potential successor to the president. In the history of Senegalese politics, the presence or absence of a Prime Minister has always been a determining factor in governmental stability and political succession. Frequent changes of Prime Ministers are not unsual in Senegalese politics. In the 43 years between 1957 and 2000, Senegal had six Prime Ministers. In the past few years however, these changes have become more frequent. Between 2000 and 2014 there were nine. The office of the Prime Minister has also been scrapped twice – between 1963 and 1970 and from 1983 to March 1991.SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION

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South Africa’s Deadly Coal Belt

South Africa’s government is being sued for failing to crack down on some of the world’s worst air pollution emitted by power plants operated by Eskom and refineries owned by Sasol. The case was filed in the Pretoria High Court by groundWork, an environmental-rights organisation, and the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action. The so-called Highveld Priority Area, which includes much of Mpumalanga province and part of Gauteng, is the site of 12 coal-fired Eskom power plants, a Sasol oil refinery and coal-to-fuel plant owned by the company. It’s also where almost all of South Africa’s coal is mined. A Greenpeace study for the third quarter of 2018 showed that Mpumalanga had the worst nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants of any area in the world. The plants also emit sulfur dioxide, mercury and fine particulate matter that causes illnesses ranging from asthma to lung cancer and contributes to birth defects, strokes and heart attacks. Eskom has filed for permission to delay complying with emission limits at some of its plants. Sasolburg, where Sasol operates an oil refinery, frequently has worse air quality than Beijing and Jakarta, two of the world’s most polluted cities.SOURCE: MONEYWEB

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Malawi Calls for Sunshine Journalism

Supporters of press freedom in Malawi are denouncing a government order suspending all radio and television call-in programs.  Malawi’s Communications Regulatory Authority issued the order on Friday, saying it is concerned that the programs could trigger more post-election violence. A host on Malawi’s privately-owned Capital Radio station reads text messages from listeners on her show. The station is known for broadcasting lively chat shows about politics and society but has been forced to engage with listeners via social media. Malawi press freedom group Media Institute for Southern Africa said the government’s order violates freedom of expression. Broadcast managers are planning to meet with the Communications Regulatory Authority this week to discuss the matter.SOURCE: VOA

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Gabon Appoints Conservationist to Protect Wildlife

A British former Wildlife Conservation Society officer has been named Gabon’s forests minister, after the last one was fired over a scandal in which hundreds of containers of illegally logged kevazingo wood went missing. Lee White ran the WCS programme in Gabon for nearly two decades before becoming head of the central African country’s National Parks Agency. He has dual British-Gabonese citizenship. Gabonese President Ali Bongo has sought to cast himself as an environmental crusader, delighting conservation groups by banning raw wood exports, enlarging protected areas and demarcating 13 new national parks since he took power after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, in 2009. Despite those efforts Gabon remains a target for poachers, illegal logging and the illicit wildlife trade. SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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How African Football Teams are Faring in Paris

The 2019 Women’s World Cup kicked off last Friday with 24 teams in the race to be crowned “queens” of the game over the month-long tournament in France. There are 24 teams classed into six groups. Africa’s representatives are Nigeria’s Super Falcons, Banyana Banyana of South Africa and the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon. Two of Africa’s reps took to the field on Saturday recording loses by three goals each. South Africa were beaten three – one by Spain whilst Norway crushed Nigeria by three unanswered goals. Cameroon on Monday also lost narrowly to Canada, 1 – 0. Nigeria, are the reigning African champions and are hoping to better their record at the Women’s World Cup and go all the way to the July 7 final. South Africa, who are featuring at the Women’s World Cup for the first time, are the rising star of the continent. Cameroon secured their place at the World Cup by beating Mali in the third place play-off at AWCON 2018 which took place in Ghana earlier this year.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Remote Classrooms to Improve Higher Learning in Africa

Unicaf University is an African institution founded in 2012 in Zambia with programs in fields like business, education and health care management. Offering degrees largely online, with some blended learning options, Unicaf reaches 18,000 students across the continent, many of them working adults. Unicaf offers the convenience of anytime, anywhere study — as long as the internet service is sufficient. Initially, Unicaf was essentially a distance-learning platform, taking courses offered by British and American universities, translating them to an online environment and marketing them to Africans. Partner institutions set admissions standards, approve hiring and determine whether students meet graduation requirements. The cost of a degree, about $4,000, is not cheap by African standards, but it is within reach of the region’s growing middle class, and many students receive scholarships. Ms. Kamizi, a former safety worker in a mine, got a full ride after she won a Unicaf-sponsored business competition with an idea for manufacturing low-cost sanitary napkins. Africa’s longstanding public universities have wrestled with the pressure to expand capacity without sacrificing quality, and not always successfully, said Jamil Salmi, a higher education consultant and former World Bank official from Morocco. Such universities have grown up, but they vary in caliber and can be costly. Going abroad to study is an option for only a select few.SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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UN Predictions about Mali Come True

At least 95 people have been killed in an overnight attack on an ethnic Dogon village in central Mali, local officials have said, in the latest bout of violence to hit the region. Nineteen others were missing since unknown armed men attacked the village of Sobane-Kou in the Mopti region in the early hours of Monday, the government said in a statement. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but tensions have been rising since an ethnic Dogon militia was accused of carrying out a massacre in an ethnic Fulani village in March. Last week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had warned of a “high risk” of atrocities and called on the government to strengthen its response to armed groups. “If these concerns are not addressed, there is a high risk of further escalation that could lead to the commission of atrocity crimes,” he wrote in a report to the UN Security Council. In Monday’s statement, the Malian government expressed its condolences and said “every measure will be taken to arrest and punish those responsible for this bloodshed.”SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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Getting Around Africa’s Logistical Nightmare

Industries can make a variety of goods, but they struggle to transport them safely and quickly to customers without established networks. According to global property consultancy Knight Frank, the cost of transport takes up 50-75% of the retail price of goods. But there is hope, from both foreign investment and home-grown solutions. For example, in Nigeria, digital start-up Kobo360 developed an app that revolutionises cargo delivery by making sure that everyone in the supply chain is connected to ensure the safety and accountability of cargo in transit. n the Senegalese capital, Dakar, more and more people are shopping online, and getting goods delivered to your front door is a growing trend amongst shoppers. Quicarry is a service that delivers packages in Senegal from international ecommerce websites, particularly targeting young adults. There are other start-ups in Senegal also trying to offer new solutions, such as delivery app Paps, which aims to deliver anything you want to your front door in half an hour. But technology isn’t enough to fix Africa’s logistics problems – more support is also needed to help new businesses get off the ground.SOURCE: BBC

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Some Good News for the African Elephant

Fifteen years ago, half a million African elephants roamed the continent. The animals were moved off endangered lists, and the population even seemed to be going up in some areas. Then, because of poaching, those numbers dropped. Africa lost more than 100,000 elephants between 2006 and 2015, the worst poaching surge since the 1980s, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A new study finds that the number of elephants dying from poaching is declining, with a mortality rate of 10% in 2011 falling to 4% in 2017. The cause? Reduced ivory demand, specifically from Chinese markets — the biggest driver behind poaching in Africa, according to the study, which appeared last month in the journal Nature Communications. It’s basic supply and demand, according to the study. The supply for ivory, which poachers get from the elephants’ tusks, is always low, but when demand is high, more people try to meet that demand. China banned all trade in ivory in 2017, which may have helped blunt demand, the study says. But trade and poaching bans in China and in Africa have also had the negative effect of driving the value of ivory up.SOURCE: CNN

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Red Tape and Bureaucracy for African Researchers

The Home Office is being accused of institutional racism and damaging British research projects through increasingly arbitrary and “insulting” visa refusals for academics. In April, a team of six Ebola researchers from Sierra Leone were unable to attend vital training in the UK, funded by the Wellcome Trust as part of a £1.5m flagship pandemic preparedness programme. At the LSE Africa summit, also in April, 24 out of 25 researchers were missing from a single workshop. Shortly afterwards, the Save the Children centenary events were marred by multiple visa refusals of key guests. There are echoes of the wider hostile environment across the Home Office, with MPs on a parliamentary inquiry into visa refusals hearing evidence that there is “an element of systemic prejudice against applicants”. In a letter in today’s Observer 70 senior leaders from universities and research institutes across the UK warn that “visa refusals for African cultural, development and academic leaders … [are] undermining ‘Global Britain’s’ reputation as well as efforts to tackle global challenges”.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Difficulty Repatriating Revenues Earned in African Air Travel

The International Air Transport Association says that a number of African countries are holding up funds by airline operators as a result of foreign exchange crunch. At its annual General Meeting in South Korea early June 2019, IATA said as at the ending of March 2019, five African countries were holding a total of $413 million meant for airlines. Amongst them are Eritrea, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Angola and Algeria. Eritrea is holding a total of $73 million of such funds with six million of the chunk belonging to Ethiopian Airlines. Other airlines impacted by the same situation include Egypt Air, Turkish Air and Fly Dubai. Reports say the financial difficulty had forced Qatar Airways and Luthansa to abandon the route. According to the IATA, Zimbabwe holds USD 192 million, Sudan 84 million, Algeria 80 million, Angola seven million.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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The Tanzanian Journalist Taking on Magufuli

Kizito Makoye Shigela is a brave man, the journalist is unafraid to openly criticize the Tanzanian President, John Magufuli, whom he accuses of abusing the constitution. He feels that the country is returning to dictatorship, just like other East African countries. People disappear. Azory Gwanda—a reporter who researched a story that might have proven embarrassing for the powers that be—is currently missing. Opposition leader Tundu Lissu was said to be the victim of an assassination attempt in September 2017. He is still being treated by doctors in Belgium. Tanzania slipped from 93rd to 118th place in the latest Reporters Without Borders ranking. In February, the Tanzanian government closed the English language newspaper The Citizen for a week. The editors reported on the situation of the Tanzanian shilling and its strong fluctuation against the US dollar. The report put Tanzanian economic policy to the test. The publishers of The Citizen were meant to understand the one-week ban as a warning.SOURCE: TRUE AFRICA

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A Campaign of Civil Disobedience has emptied Khartoum’s Streets

The opposition says 118 people were killed in last week’s violence. Authorities put the death toll at 62. Army officers who overthrew President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April after four months of protests have cancelled all agreements with the civilian opposition alliance and scrapped talks over power sharing. Security forces fired in the air to disperse demonstrators in the north of the city. The scenario unfolding in Sudan seems straight out of the playbooks of generals in Egypt who manipulated the 2011 Arab Spring to their advantage instead of introducing greater freedoms.SOURCE:  REUTERS AFRICA

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Cause for Concern in Ethiopia’s Path for Polls

Ethiopia’s parliament postponed a national census for a second time on Monday, citing security concerns but potentially undermining logistics for the first election under reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethiopia is due to hold a national vote some time in 2020, and the census — already postponed once from 2017 — is a crucial step towards demarcating constituencies. But parliamentarians in both houses voted overwhelmingly to delay the census again by a year, due to an upsurge in ethnic conflicts that has forced 2.4-million Ethiopians out of their homes, according to UN figures. The next vote will test Abiy’s reformist agenda that has included ending hostilities with Eritrea, opening the economy to foreign investment and freeing political prisoners.SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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How Youth Mentorship Can Help Shape South Africa

In 2010, youth in South Africa, people aged 15-34, constituted 37% of the population, numbering 19.1 million individuals. Young people in today’s world grapple with socio-economic challenges which will ultimately impact on their ability to access opportunities in their future. They are also vulnerable in the labour market, with high levels of youth unemployment. Peer mentors are friends, advisers, role models, coaches or companions who can fill existing gaps in support and help teenagers to navigate stress, peer pressure and other negative influences in their lives. Through mentorship programmes, such as the SAB 18+ Be The Mentor programme, which aims to promote harm reduction, reduce underage drinking and contribute to broader change in communities, youth gain self-confidence and improve in attitude and behaviour. The SAB 18+ Be The Mentor mentorship programme works via its digital mentorship programme and a network of SAB’s Smart Drinking Squad (SDS) who give guidance to peer mentors on how to avoid the negative effects of alcohol abuse and underage drinking. They also provide support in other aspects of their lives.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Meet the Winner of the 2019 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

An invention by a South African engineer that dispenses pills has won a major African engineering prize. Neo Hutiri invented the Pelebox, a locker patients can unlock with a one-time pin sent to their phone. These lockers cut queues down “from three-and-a-half hours to under 36 seconds”, he told BBC Focus on Africa. South Africa runs the world’s largest HIV/Aids treatment programme which has led to high numbers of patients with repeat prescriptions. Mr Hutiri won the $32,000 2019 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation from the Royal Academy of Engineering. He told the BBC that he came up with the idea after he was diagnosed with TB in 2014 and he went to his clinic to collect medicine. Long queues at pharmacies can be caused by staff shortages and high volumes of patients with chronic illnesses – such as HIV and Aids. Currently six smart locker units are in operation in South Africa and the company is building eight more. He says he will use prize money to help build an assembly section for manufacturing and improve the technology so they can scale up their business better.SOURCE: BBC

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Out in the Cold

The African Union (AU) has suspended Sudan’s membership days after the military launched a brutal crackdown on protesters that killed dozens of people. The AU’s Peace and Security Department said in a post on Twitter on Thursday that Sudan’s participation in all AU activities would be suspended with immediate effect – “until the effective establishment of a civilian-led transitional authority,” which it described as the only way to “exit from the current crisis”. The announcement followed an emergency meeting by the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, after the violent dispersal of a protest camp in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, began on Monday. At least 108 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD), while a health ministry official was quoted as saying the death toll stood at 61.SOURCE:  AL JAZEERA

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Kenyan Garbage Hero Talks Empowerment and Caring for the Environment

Cleaning the streets of garbage while creating jobs for unemployed youth. This is what a youth group is doing in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. According to the United Nations, uncollected garbage is among the biggest problems in cities, and because of a growing population worldwide the problem seems to grow bigger. But there are solutions as the youth group in Nairobi is showing. Isaac Muasa, fondly known as Kaka is the founder and chair of the Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (MECYG). It began life as a door-to-door rubbish collection and disposal enterprise in 1997 after Kaka and members of his football team decided to tackle the mounting heaps of rubbish in their community. By making their collection services affordable, the group ensured that the initiative took off and became a regular source of income for many jobless youth. The youth decided to clear the largest dumpsite in Mlango Kubwa and convert it into their own exclusive space. Kaka has been selected as one of the five winners of the 2018 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour in recognition of his work in improving the lives of those in urban areas particularly in the area of solid waste management.SOURCE: VOA

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New Superfood Alert

With more than 12.2 million heads of camel, East Africa is home to some of the world’s largest camel populations. Rich in iron, vitamin B and C, and low in fat, the frothy milk produced by the hunched mammal is valued in the region and across the world for its medicinal value—particularly against diabetes and allergies—and is even used as an aphrodisiac. It’s also prized as a source of nutrition especially in hot and arid zones where climate change is exacerbating drought conditions and decimating food chains. As such, camel dairy products ranging from baby milk to chocolate bars, pizzas to frappuccinos have been launched all across the world. In Africa, enterprises like Mauritania’s Tiviski have been successful in disrupting the milk industry, ensuring they buy from local camel herders instead of relying on milk imports. In Chad, milk bars are helping popularize the consumption of the slightly salty milk, while Egypt’s Tayyiba Farms offers a range of products including camel white cheese, kefir, and yogurt. Yet across East Africa, the camel dairy business remains rudimentary with much of it being sold and consumed in domestic markets or guzzled by young camels themselves. This underutilization of the creamy liquid, some say, undermines its potential to grow into a multi-billion-dollar business that could change the lives of herders and milk traders alike. Given its benefits for health and well-being, camel milk could grow to become the next global superfood attracting health-conscious consumers. SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Moving Africa Away from Cash Transactions

Across Africa, there has historically been a heavy reliance on cash, with around 95 percent of retail transactions taking place in cash. Global and local organisations are investing in innovative digital payment systems and new disruptive payments tools to displace cash, while delivering new levels of inclusion to the benefit of consumers, businesses and governments. One of the leading technology companies in this realm is Mastercard. From a consumer perspective, cash is inconvenient, dangerous to carry and expensive. This remains true across several other African countries where people often have to trade off the demands of an hourly job with the need to travel long distances to access cash or stand in line to pay a bill. Many people also face the danger of being robbed when they come home with their wages.​ Cash also has several negative implications for merchants and small businesses. Not only does it cost these businesses to access, secure, transport and store cash, but it can also hamper business growth if they do not accept electronic payments. For example, entrepreneurs cannot access the credit or loans they need to grow their businesses without a financial record or credit history. They can also lose out on revenue when their customers don’t have enough cash to pay for goods.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Why this Tour Group Won’t Receive a Warm Welcome

An LGBT tour operator has received death threats and hate messages on social media after launching a holiday to Ethiopia. Chicago-based Toto Tours’ 16-day trip to Ethiopia is due to take place at the end of October and includes religious sites such as the Debre Berhan Selassie in Gondar and the ancient cave monasteries in the mountains of Lalibela. But religious groups in the country are urging the Ethiopian government to ban the company from visiting religious sites, warning that gay travellers could face violence. Ethiopia has strict anti-gay laws, with homosexual acts punishable by up to 15 years in prison. According to Article 629 of the Ethiopian Criminal Code, this applies to both nationals and foreigners. Toto Tours, which has been organising trips around the world for LGBT travellers and their friends and families since 1990, describes itself as “dedicated to creating exciting travel opportunities that enable our community to explore the wonders of the world in comfort and safety while having the time of our lives”. It has also run tours to Uganda and Tanzania, both of which currently criminalise homosexual acts.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Africa’s ‘Innovative Spirit’ Attracts Significant Investments this Year

The continent’s burgeoning reputation as a source of programming talent got a major boost last month when Microsoft launched its Africa Development Centre (ADC) — a $100m investment over the next five years. With offices in Kenya and Nigeria, Microsoft hopes to train 100 full-time engineers by the end of this year and a further 500 engineers by the end of 2023. The multinational believes in Africa’s “innovative spirit”, especially in fintech, agritech and off-grid energy. Microsoft’s investment comes after programming company Andela announced earlier this year it had secured an additional $100m in investment, including from Facebook’s first couple, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. This brings its total venture funding to $180m. Microsoft is aware that locally relevant apps and services are the correct way in which to approach markets in different parts of the world. “You can’t just build it and hope they will come, as they say in [the movie] Field of Dreams,” says Fortin. “All of these have to be relevant for the local market and globally. We come here expecting to learn.”SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Here’s How Ghana could End Child Labor on Cocoa Farms

Paying just 3% more at the farm gate could stop children in Ghana doing the most hazardous tasks, like using machetes, or working more than 42 hours a week, researchers said, as the illegal practice is driven by poverty and rarely prosecuted. Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa grower, More than 700,000 children help produce the crop. “We figured there has to be some kind of incentive, on top of the laws, to get the farmers to stop using child labor,” said Jeff Luckstead, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, co-author of the study in the journal PLoS ONE. Most cocoa farming families live below the World Bank’s poverty line of $2 a day, according to the charity International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), fuelling child labor. Big chocolate makers have been under pressure to clean up their supply chains since reports of child labor on West African cocoa farms emerged in the 1990s, with major names like Mars and Hershey promising to only buy ethical cocoa by 2020.SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

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South Africa’s President Hold Talks with Executives of Key State Companies

President Cyril Ramaphosa met with former CEO’s from power utility Eskom and South African Airways (SAA), to discuss challenges they face. The meeting follows resignations of Eskom and SAA chief executives, moves that investors said could slow the pace of turnaround plans seen as critical to shoring up confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy. The presidency said Ramaphosa requested the meeting with more than 20 chief executives of key state-owned companies to hear their views on challenges, as well as opportunities. “This engagement has raised several critical areas that limit the ability of (state-owned companies) to drive growth and development. These range from inadequate capitalisation and poor governance to outdated legislation and political interference,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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CAF Cancels Esperance Win

Esperance Tunis have lodged an appeal against CAF’s Wednesday decision to re-stage the second leg of the African Champions League final, which was last week abandoned after Wydad Casablanca left the pitch following a disputed decision. Wydad’s Walid El Karti’s 60th minute equaliser was ruled out by the referee for offside. The Moroccans requested verification by the VAR but Gambian referee Bakari Gassama declined. Furious, they walked off the pitch.The match had thereafter been awarded to Esperance, who were consequently crowned African champions. The club has since refused to honour CFA’s call to return the trophy and medals. “The club’s management will hold an urgent meeting to appeal against Caf’s decision with the relevant international bodies and will take all legal measures to preserve its rights,” Esperance said in a short statement. The team is expected to return all medals and the trophy ahead of the rescheduled game which will be played after the 2019 AFCON set to take place in Egypt. The final final will be played at a yet to be named neutral ground.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Saving Kenya’s Heritage from a Cloud of Smog

Campaigners in Kenya who fear their country is turning its back on its green goals are hoping to stop construction of a coal plant that would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 700%. Activists in Kenya are marking World Environment Day with a protest against plans to build the country’s first coal-fired power station. At least two-thirds of Kenya’s electricity is currently generated by renewable resources and it has pledged to reduce its small carbon footprint by nearly a third over the next decade. The new plant will sit alongside an ambitious new $25.5bn development on the Kenyan coast at Lamu – an historic 700-year-old fishing and trading town, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project includes a vast 32-berth container port, an oil terminal, road and railway links, and a “resort city”. The first phase of the port building project is almost complete. Chinese dredging vessels are cutting a deep channel in the bay and are using the sand and rocks to reclaim land and build the first three container ship berths, which stretch for almost a mile.SOURCE: BBC

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One in Three African Children are Stunted

In an urgent call for action, a study by the African Child Policy Forum said that nearly 60 million children in Africa do not have enough food despite the continent’s economic growth in recent years. Nine out of 10 African children do not meet the criteria for minimum acceptable diet outlined by the World Health Organization, and two out of five don’t eat meals regularly. Liberia, Congo and Chad are at the bottom of the chart when it comes to children aged six to 23 months receiving sufficient and diverse food with a healthy frequency. They are followed by Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hunger impairs growth and cognitive development of children, but also hits the economic performance of the country they come from. Child hunger can cost African countries almost 17% of their GDP, according to the report. The continent’s present GDP is estimated to have been reduced by 10% because of stunting alone. Annually, child hunger costs Ethiopia 16.5% of its GDP. The rate for Rwanda is 11.5%. The report says “for every dollar invested in reducing stunting, there is a return of about $22 (£17) in Chad, $21 in Senegal, and $17 in Niger and Uganda”, and if the investment is made early in the child’s life, the return rates can be even higher: up to $85 in Nigeria, $80 in Sudan and $60 in Kenya.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Recovering Nigeria’s Lost Millions

Authorities in Jersey say they have seized more than $267 million from the family and associates of late Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha. According to Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund, the laundered funds recovered from confiscated assets, belonging to the son of the late dictator, Mohammed Abacha was “derived from corruption,” during the military leader’s rule in Nigeria. The money was found in a Channel Islands account held by shell company Doraville Properties Corporation. It had been frozen by a federal court in Washington in 2014 at the request of prosecutors pursuing criminal proceedings against Mohammed Abacha and his associates. The stolen funds have now been recovered and paid into a special recovery fund after a five-year legal battle, and it will be shared between the Nigerian government, Jersey and the US government, according to Jersey authorities overseeing the case.SOURCE: CNN

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Rwanda Enters the Multipurpose Housing Game

A project dubbed “Rugarama Park Estate” a joint venture between Shelter Africa, Development Bank of Rwanda in partnership with engineering and construction firm Remote Group, has recently been launched where the construction of over 2000 affordable housing for an average Rwandan’s income. Rugarama is a sustainable integrated community development, whose objective is to develop a high-density housing estate (2700 units+) that will, cater for lower and medium income populations of the society; provide a wealth of civic and community facilities –e.g.: schools, parks, religious sites, medical centres and commercial opportunities; Integrate sustainable eco-friendly initiatives. The Government of Rwanda has currently considered affordable housing as one of its priorities although there are a number of strategic incentives to attract local and international investors in the sector. The country targets to have 35 per cent of urbanization by 2024 from 18.4 per cent in 2017, the move that will need more dwelling units. Housing experts, however say that due to different challenges, the country has not even managed to satisfy 10 per cent of affordable housing needs. Shelter Afrique is the only pan-African finance institution that exclusively supports the development of the housing and real estate sector in Africa.  The company is owned by 44 African Governments, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Africa Reinsurance Company.SOURCE: CAPITAL FM

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Calling All Coin Collectors

South Africa’s Kruger rand, the most widely held and actively traded bullion coin worldwide, issued a new set of collectible coins commemorating 25 years of democracy. The series consists of five new 2-rand ($0.14) coins and a 5-rand coin, and will be released over the next few months. The coins were produced by the South African Mint and are the first to be designed with input from the public, which helped develop themes that include children’s, environmental and educational rights. More than 60 million Kruger rands — a one-ounce unit introduced in 1967 — have been sold, according to the South African Gold Coin Exchange.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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Landslide Destroys Ugandan Village

Five people died and dozens were missing after heavy rains triggered a series of landslides in eastern Uganda. A statement from the office of Prime Minister said “there are reports of displacement and destruction of property as well as missing persons” in the country’s mountainous Bududa district. “There’s a team of Red Cross and … local authorities on the ground in a rescue operation,” said Julius Mucunguzi, a prime minister’s office spokesman. The Red Cross said about 50 people were believed to be missing and 150 houses had been destroyed after the mudslides on Tuesday night in the foothills of Mount Elgon – an extinct volcano with five major peaks. The local Red Cross branch volunteers together with the local police joined efforts and retrieved the bodies. The affected areas have steep slopes. It is threatening to rain again [and] officials say that accessibility is still a challenge. Bududa district, which lies on the border between Uganda and Kenya, is a high-risk area for landslides. In 2010, at least 100 people were killed in a mudslide and at least 41 died after a river in the region burst its banks in 2018.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Living with Wild Animals

Villagers in southern Cameroon are relocating following a series of lion attacks on their livestock. Cameroon authorities and wildlife conservationists are warning about the growing threat to endangered animals from human-wildlife conflict. A forest rancher deployed by Cameroon wildlife officials to the area, says their first mission is to make sure the population is safe. But he said the lions should also be secured and returned to their natural habitat. He said the villagers should remain calm, avoid being isolated, and desist from coming out to fight back when the lions attack. Officials suspect the lions came from overcrowded reserves like the Benoue, Kalfou, or Waza wildlife parks in northern Cameroon for greener pastures. Save the Cameroon Forest’s wildlife conservation expert Rigobert Bihina said communities need better incentives for development that also involve wildlife conservation. He said the government and its development partners should pay particular attention to people who live in villages surrounding national parks.SOURCE: VOA

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African Countries no Longer Need to Choose between the US and China for Development

During the Cold War the Russians provided diplomatic, economic, military, and educational support for numerous African liberation movements. These included Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Sao Tome & Principe, and Tanzania. As a result many young Africans were educated in Moscow. Russia began to trade and interact with these states routinely. It sent in military intelligence officers to establish a strong presence and ensure that Africa was not purely influenced by the West. The Russians developed relations with Africa so intensely that for the 10 years between 1950 and 1960 it surpassed the influence of colonizing powers.  When Putin came to power in 1999. Under his leadership Russia has started to regain its economic and political clout in Africa. Putin has jumpstarted Russia’s diplomatic, economic, and military ties with its former African allies.  Russia’s interests have mainly been in energy, oil and gas as well as defence, and has been accused of political interference in some African elections. Researchers say that the danger for Moscow is that, the more progress it makes with African governments, the more likely it is that its interests will collide with those of either China or the US—or both.SOURCE:  QUARTZ AFRICA

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All Eyes on Sudan

Sudan’s military ruler offered to resume talks with opposition groups without conditions on Wednesday, in an apparent olive branch two days after security forces mounted a deadly raid on a protest camp in central Khartoum. Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s offer marked a step-back from the army’s decision to cancel all deals with the opposition after the raid – and came as international criticism of the violence mounted. At least 60 people died in the operation and subsequent unrest, medics linked to the opposition said on Wednesday – the worst outbreak of violence since the army ousted president Omar al-Bashir in April following months of mass protests against his rule.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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The Team Behind Your Favourite Treats

If you like marshmallows or M&M’s chocolate candies, then you’ve eaten acacia gum without even knowing it. Collected from the acacia tree, acacia gum is used in the food industry as a stabilizer, emulsifier and thickening agent. It is one of those environmentally friendly ingredients that are providing jobs for farmers in the Sahel region, mostly in Senegal and Sudan, even though large-scale production extends all the way to Somalia. TRUE Africa went to Dakar and Dahra in Senegal, so to visit the production facilities of Alland & Robert, a family-owned company that has become one of the world’s leading exporters of acacia gum. The teams observed the local harvesting methods and supply chain process and interviewed Frédéric Alland, the CEO at Alland & Robert who happens to be a sixth-generation owner of the 135-year-old company.SOURCE: TRUE AFRICA

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A Cocktail to Combat Malaria

A genetically modified fungus that kills malaria-carrying mosquitoes could provide a breakthrough in the fight against the disease, according to researchers. Trials in Burkina Faso found that a fungus, modified so that it produces spider toxin, quickly killed large numbers of mosquitos that carry malaria. Within 45 days, mosquito populations were drastically reduced by more than 90%, according to researchers at the University of Maryland and the IRSS research institute in Burkina Faso. Researchers selected a fungus, Metarhizium pingshaense, which naturally infects malaria-carrying mosquitoes. This fungus was then genetically modified so that it would produce a toxin found in the venom of a species of funnel-web spider.  Laboratory trials showed that the genetically modified fungus killed mosquitoes more quickly, with fewer spores, than wild fungus, according to the study, published in the journal Science.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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Making an African Phone for African Users

For Chinese phone manufacturer Transsion, localization isn’t just a marketing strategy: it’s the secret ingredient that has placed it ahead of all its competitors in Africa. The company has bet on African consumers by making affordable handsets with advanced features using an aggressive distribution network. The Shenzhen-based firm has risen as a dark horse in the mobile hardware market by instituting “micro innovations” propitious to its African customers including multiple SIM slots, long battery life, as well as user-friendly designs that support local languages like Swahili or Ethiopia’s Amharic. But one feature that has distinguished its devices is their camera-centric nature and their ability to calibrate exposures for darker skin tones. As its key focus market, Transsion has thousands of employees across Africa, working in production lines in its Ethiopian factory and as in-design and user interface personnel in Kenya and Nigeria. After conducting an in-depth analysis of consumers’ photo habits and needs, the company found photo quality was important to not just younger consumers but increasingly wider age demographics. Phone cameras, especially front camera exposure, was the first feature customers inspected when considering buying a new mobile phone.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Growing Independent Voices after the Arab Spring

The newspaper where Lina Attalah was working went under at the worst possible time. It was April 2013, and Egypt was at a crossroads. So she rallied former colleagues to establish a new, independent outlet. They called it Mada Masr — the first word means “range” or “span” in Arabic, and the second “Egypt.” On June 30 that year, the website launched to cover the mass protests against Morsi, whom Egyptians were angry with for trying to force through an Islamist constitution by presidential decree and for the chaos in the streets and a slumping economy. Three days later, on July 3, a military coup deposed Morsi and opened the door for Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s authoritarian rule. Egypt was now deeply divided, but Mada Masr continued reporting with balance. “At the time, many media outlets had taken steps back in terms of reporting accurately and with integrity,” says Attalah, now 36. “I thought Mada Masr was going to serve as an important record of the history of the country.”Six years later, Attalah is the chief editor of Egypt’s only independent media outlet, with 124,000 followers on Twitter and 241,000 on Facebook. But Mada Masr isn’t alone. It’s among a growing number of independent Arabic digital outlets that are emerging as fresh sources of news in a region where tyrants and oligarchs have for decades controlled the media. The next challenge for outlets like 7iber and Mada Masr is to expand beyond their core followers of young progressive millennials and activists.SOURCE: OZY

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Will Elections Settle Sudan’s Impasse?

The country’s ruling military council has called for an election after troops stormed the main camp of pro-democracy protestors and killed at least 35 people in a crackdown which has drawn international condemnation. Hundreds were injured Monday in the capital Khartoum when the military tried to break up the opposition sit-in, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, which is close to the protestors. The demonstrators have demanded that the Transitional Military Council, which has ruled the country since troops ousted longtime President Omar al-Bashir in April, make way for a civilian-led interim body. After the coup the military council and opposition groups agreed on a three-year transition to democracy. But in a broadcast early Tuesday, the council’s leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan called for national elections within nine months.SOURCE: CNN

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Mobile Health Caravan Initiative in The Gambia

In an effort to strengthen the psychosocial reintegration of returnees and promote universal access to healthcare in their communities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), community health volunteers and doctors provide free medical consultations, psychosocial support and complimentary medicine to over 200 community members through the mobile health caravan. Simultaneously, health education sessions on HIV, tuberculosis, depression and other mental health-related disorders are conducted daily. the initiative was designed to address the medical and psychosocial concerns of returnees who often return from difficult and traumatic experiences, and their communities, who are equally impacted by the departure or loss of lives of their families and friends. Returnees identified with medical or psychosocial needs are followed up by IOM staff and referred to relevant health authorities. his initiative came as a result of an analysis of conflict drivers in The Gambia conducted by the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, in which the stigma and negative perceptions faced by returnees were identified. The caravans were designed to include communities in the reintegration process.  The first two caravans are the beginning of a series of 10 planned events, which will all take place in communities with the highest number of returnees. Prior to each caravan, health volunteers in the community are trained on the provision of psychological first aid and basic counselling skills. SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Why is Kenya Replacing its Banknotes?

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the country’s currency is to be replaced with a new generation of banknotes. Kenyans must return their 1000 shilling ($10) notes to banks by 1 October, in a bid to fight money laundering, counterfeits and corruption. New banknotes are to be brought in over the coming months with other denominations being phased out gradually. The governor of Kenya’s central bank, Patrick Njoroge, also expressed “grave concern” over larger banknotes being used for “illicit financial flows in Kenya and also other countries in the region”. The note is the highest value note in Kenya and according to Mr Njoroge, the Kenyan shilling is the equivalent to the US dollar in east Africa, in terms of its recognition.SOURCE: BBC

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South Africa’s CEO Purge

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s mission to fix two of South Africa’s most troubled state companies, power firm Eskom and South African Airways (SAA), could take longer than planned after their chief executives quit within a week of each other. Investors say the CEOs’ resignations could slow the implementation of turnaround plans seen as critical to shoring up confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy, which has for years struggled to grow and whose last investment-grade credit rating is hanging by a thread.The roles at Eskom and SAA are some of the most challenging in corporate South Africa, with fierce disagreements over how the companies should operate, meaning it will be difficult to find replacement leaders quickly. Eskom is choking under $30.3 billion of debt — equivalent to around 9 percent of South Africa’s 2018 gross domestic product — and this year implemented some of the worst power cuts in several years. SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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Ghana And Ethiopian Airlines To Create National Ghana Airlines

Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, and the government of Ghana have signed a strategic partnership agreement to set up a new national carrier in Accra, Ghana. The proposed airline will be a home based airline that would be established by Ethiopian Airlines in collaboration with the government of Ghana and the private sector. The government of Ghana and the private sector will have a minimum of 51 percent stake in the proposed airline while Ethiopian will hold up to 49 percent interest in the new national airline. Following the demise of Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines the West African economic powerhouse does not have a national airline. In 2016 the government of Ghana invited international airlines who are interested in forging a strategic partnership to establish a home based national carrier in Accra. Ethiopian Airlines, Air Mauritius and indigenous carrier Africa World Air presented their expression of interest to the Ghanaian Ministry of Transport.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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Back from the Front Line

Nearly 2,000 former child vigilantes who fought against Boko Haram have returned to their homes in northeast Nigeria. The United Nations says some of the children took up arms to help the army fight the armed group an allegation officials deny. The UN wants the disengagement process to help children caught up in violence have a chance at a normal life with hundreds of the former fighters have since returned to school.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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Cameroon’s Forest Tribes Use Insects to Supplement Diet

The palm weevil grub, a fat worm found in palm trees, is such a popular source of protein that it has squirmed from the forest into the villages and even urban restaurants.These larvae are extremely rich in essential food nutrients; they contain proteins, carbohydrates, fats and energy values comparable to those of beef and fish. They are also an excellent source of a range of minerals and vitamins. The exploitation and trade of weevil grubs is an important source of income for forest dependent communities in the Congo Basin. Grub farming system has proved to be more productive and sustainable than both the traditional collection and the semi-farming methods. This farming system could be used to produce grubs at any time of the year, thereby providing an opportunity for year-round availability of these nutritious insects, while securing their place as an important alternative to protein and a valuable income source in Cameroon.SOURCE: VOA

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Resuscitating the Central African Republic’s Healthcare

In May, Dr. Jean Chrysostome Gody congratulated the first-ever class of pediatricians to graduate from the country’s only medical school. The hospital has just opened a new multimillion-dollar malnutrition wing, doubling the number of beds and offering clean rooms with fresh paint and new mosquito nets. More patients than ever are coming through the doors — a sign not that more children are sick, Dr. Gody said, but rather that word finally is spreading that treatment there is free. Nearly seven years ago, Muslim rebels fed up with a lack of government services in rural areas — basics like schools, roads and hospitals — invaded the capital and clashed with Christian militias in fighting that slid toward genocide, the United Nations said at the time. Forty percent of the nation’s health budget is supported by international funds, said Dr. Pierre Somse, who is minister of health. A vaccination program that required cooperation from militias has succeeded in immunizing 74 percent of children, Dr. Somse said. And a new program has been created to offer free care to pregnant mothers and children under 5, based on Dr. Gody’s model at the pediatric hospital.SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Sudan Protests Take a Deadly Turn

Sudanese security forces are moving against a protest sit-in camp in the capital, besieging the site, witnesses and protest leaders said. Machine-gun fire and explosions were heard and smoke rose from the area. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said the TMC has killed another four protesters, including an eight-year-old child. This brings the death toll to 13, with more than 116 others wounded. Weeks after the removal of Omar al-Bashir as the president of Sudan, the fight for civilian rule continues as the Transitional Military Council (TMC) refuses to give in to the protesters’ demand to hand over power. The TMC, led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, says it will oversee a transitional period that will last a maximum of two years. Sudan’s opposition and protest group alliance said on Monday it was halting all contact and negotiations with the country’s military council after security forces launched a deadly raid on a protest sit-in. TMC spokesman Shams al-Din Kabashi told Al Jazeera security forces did not target the sit-in site. “What is going on is targeting Colombia [nickname because of alleged criminal activity there] adjacent to the sit-in area and not targeting the sit-in. Dangerous groups infiltrated among the protesters in the sit-in area,” Kabashi said.’SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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South Africans Rally Behind a Man’s Act of Random Kindness

A petrol attendant in Cape Town has warmed the hearts of South Africans after he helped a motorist who had left her wallet home. And has now received money to help his children. Nkosikho Mbele gave $6,80 out of his own pocket to top up the tank of Monet van Deventer whom he feared would be left stranded on a notorious stretch of highway if she ran out of petrol. He asked her to return the money when she was in the area and did not ask for her contact details. Ms Deventer was moved by Mr Mbele’s kindness and started a crowdfunding campaign for Mr Mbele. The campaign has raised over $27,500 in just two days. The money will not be transferred to Mr Mbele’s personal bank account, for fear of crime, but rather will be administered by BackaBuddy, a not-for-profit company, at his request. The money will then be used to help pay for the education of Mr Mbele’s children.SOURCE: NEWS 24

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Getting Nigerians Out of the Dark

The fact that even the Power, Works & Housing Ministry cannot secure a reliable electricity supply from the national grid is a consequence of decades of underinvestment by the state. For critics of the government, it is proof of President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to fulfill his promise to bolster Nigeria’s decrepit infrastructure. The Buhari administration argues that it has done more than previous governments. But as it begins a second term this month, supporters and critics alike say it must intensify efforts to fix the power shortages that make Nigeria one of the least electrified countries in the world per capita and serve as a brake on Africa’s largest economy. The ministry says “Hopefully by this time next year, all of these buildings will be completely solar,” he as part of a plan by the government to bypass the moribund power sector with a “massive deployment of off-grid systems,” with policies that encourage the private sector to do the same. This year, Tony Elumelu, one of Nigeria’s richest men, announced plans to invest $2.5 billion in power. His company Transcorp won a $293 million bid in May for a second power plant, in which it plans to invest $190 million, roughly doubling the firm’s capacity to about 2,000MW. SOURCE: OZY

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Comics Inspired by African Heroes

Growing up in Brazzaville, Kiyindou Yamakasi began making comics at a young age sharing them with his primary school friends who would act out the scenes. His characters very closely resembled those he read about in Japanese and American comics. They took subways, they suffered through terrible winters and were White or Asian. His earlier work is a great contrast to his new fantasy comic series, Little Little Orishas that draws inspiration from Yoruba spirituality with his characters as revered deities. It is a story of overcoming barriers, dealing with bullies, class issues and resilience. All these are topics that are close to Yamakasi’s heart having endured similar hardships in school. With the support of his parents, he’s now equipped with the tools to get his stories to a larger audience using comics and hopefully in future an animated series. His parents wholeheartedly backed his decision to drop out of university in Brazzaville where he was studying economics and accounting and instead join AFDA in Cape Town where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Motion Pictures. He hopes to further his studies in film and television.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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The Gorilla who Inspired Conservation Efforts Dies

The last of the “Gorillas in the Mist”, made famous by renowned American primatologist Dian Fossey, is believed to have died. A gorilla known as Poppy, who would have turned 43 on April 1, has not been seen by trackers since August last year. Poppy was born nine years after Fossey established a camp within Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in 1967 as part of an effort to study the area’s vanishing mountain gorilla population. Fossey was killed in Rwanda over 30 years ago but her nonprofit said in a statement about Poppy’s death that Fossey often wrote of the young gorilla in her journals. She described Poppy as a “little darling … winsome and appealing. She could do no wrong.” The Fossey Fund said Poppy hailed from one of the area’s “royal families.” Her mother, Effie, was the powerful matriarch whose members are now spread across many gorilla groups in the national park. Poppy’s other well-known relatives include two silverbacks, Cantsbee and Isabukuru, as well as her sister, Maggie, who was a favorite of Sigourney Weaver while filming the Academy Award-winning film “Gorillas in the Mist,” which was adapted from a book by Fossey.SOURCE: CNN

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More Money Woes for Harare

As Zimbabwe’s economy struggles and the country faces scarce fuel supplies, some businesses are refusing to accept the ever-weakening local currency, insisting on doing business in U.S. dollars. One reason is that the local currency, known as bond notes, are not accepted outside the southern African country, making them useless for any companies that need to import goods. Zimbabwe abandoned its dollar more than a decade ago, when hyperinflation made it worthless. Now the bond notes, introduced two years ago, are also depreciating in value. The South African rand and British pounds are acceptable in many places, but very hard to find. Even some Zimbabwe government departments and companies such as the National Railways have started asking for payment in U.S. dollars, partly to protect themselves against the depreciating bond notes. Fuel is another scarce product in Zimbabwe, and the government continues to control its price. Some companies have resorted to selling it in U.S. dollars only.SOURCE: VOA

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Human Rights Group Closes Shop in Zimbabwe

Amnesty International has shut down its Zimbabwe branch over alleged abuse of donor funds and fraud by staff. The human rights group says it has launched further investigations with the help of police into suspected graft and misconduct involving millions of dollars and Amnesty Zimbabwe has indefinitely been placed under administration. The alleged fraud was exposed in a forensic audit conducted last year. The country director has resigned while the chair and finance officer are currently suspended. In a statement Amnesty said: “An extensive forensic audit was conducted in late 2018 which uncovered evidence of fraud and serious financial mismanagement by individuals in AIZ. National law enforcement agencies were notified of the findings earlier this year and the organisation also commenced the legal process of civil recovery in order to recoup lost funds. Amnesty Zimbabwe is one among many civil society organisations in Zimbabwe to be implicated in the abuse of donor funds. Last year USAid suspended funding for NGOs that included Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Counselling Services Unit (CSU) for alleged gross financial mismanagement.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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How this Sudanese Baller Changed the Game

Asma Elbadawi, who was born in Sudan and raised in the UK, is a basketball player and coach. Throughout her career she has battled stereotypes and in 2014, she helped campaign to overturn a ban on hijabs in professional basketball. As the winner of this year’s British Muslim Awards, Hijab-clad basketball player Asma Elbadawi has become a role model for many Muslim women in Britain and elsewhere. Asma who won the award for Rising Star in Sports said, “We campaigned to FIFA to allow Muslim women to wear the hijab in professional basketball, which was a global campaign over two years, and we won in the end…. I try to play it (basketball) now, it’s a big hard with work, but I still try to play when I can.” In addition to being a first class athlete, Asma is also a successful spoken word poet, she also won BBC Radio 1Xtra’s ‘Words First’ 2015 Competition.SOURCE: BBC

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Africa’s New Trade Deal Launches

Africa is taking a giant step towards harnessing its economic might now that 52 of the continent’s 55 countries have signed a free trade agreement that forms the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The new continental trade agreement creates a single market for goods and services by removing existing trade barriers across Africa. This multinational market has a combined gross domestic product of $2m and a population of more than one billion people. The rollout of AfCFTA is expected to boost Africa’s regional and international trade, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organisation in Washington, DC. A January 2019 essay by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa noted that lifting trade barriers across Africa should “increase the value of intra-African trade by between 15 percent (or $50 billion) and 25 percent (or $70 billion),” by 2040. Historically, it has been challenging for African countries to diversify export destinations. But AfCFTA will make more Africa-produced goods available among member countries.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Nigeria’s State of Economy

The stock index is down 0.4% year-to-date while emerging markets are up 2.3% and the MSCI Frontier Markets 100 is up 10.2%. As one of the better  known, investable African equity markets, anyone who tried their luck with the Global X Nigeria (NGE) exchange-traded fund is down 27.7% over the last 12 months. In five years, the Nigeria ETF has blown up, now down over 74.5%. Frontier and emerging indexes are better than Nigeria. It’s also worse than South Africa, Africa’s largest stock market, and Egypt, Africa’s second largest. In terms of foreign direct investment, back in 2013 inflows totaled $5.6 billion, most of it in the telecom and energy sectors. Last year, Nigeria’s FDI flattened to $2 billion. Equity investment between 2013 and 2018 has fallen from around $2.9 billion in 2013 to just $139 million in 2018. Nigeria’s GDP contracted 13.8% in the first quarter, wiping out last year’s economic gains. The only country to do that of late is Venezuela. And like Venezuela, Nigeria has also dealt with blackouts in the power grid—six of them this year.

SOURCES: FORBES

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Africa’s Economies Can’t Afford to Miss Out on the Digital Revolution

Hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars are flowing into the region which remains the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world, and an emerging competitor in the global race for tech. With innovation hubs sprouting up throughout the continent, solutions are being found to solve uniquely African problems and dissolve barriers to trade, financial services and capital. But governments need to do more to seize on the opportunities of the global digital economy, which is set to grow from $11.5 trillion in 2016 to over $23 trillion by 2025. The continent’s burgeoning populations and embryonic levels of technology and underdeveloped infrastructure can be turned to an advantage if countries adopt new technologies straight away and use them to leapfrog into the 21st century. The week of round tables and expert discussions sought to equip ministers and financial policymakers with the technocratic know-how to reform their economies and legal systems to promote innovation in the digital age. Delegations from 40 African countries shared their experiences on issues ranging from investing in the technical skills of future workforces, to using technology to build more inclusive and efficient financial institutions. 

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Betting on West Africa

Why pay the government of Germany to hold onto your money if you can get yields upward of 5% on euro-pegged debt in West Africa? That’s the message the region’s biggest French-speaking economy, Ivory Coast, is trying to get across as it fine-tunes processes to make it easier for foreign investors to buy its local-currency debt. While foreigners are legally permitted to hold the bloc’s securities, administrative burdens have made it difficult to attract offshore interest. By contrast, foreign investors hold almost half the securities with maturities of two years or longer that were issued in 2018 by neighboring Ghana, which is not a member of the union and has a floating currency. But the situation may change soon. One offshore investor took part in Ivory Coast’s May 27 auction of one-year securities as a “test run” for broader participation in future, said Kadi Fadika-Coulibaly, chief executive officer of brokerage Hudson & Cie, which is a primary dealer for the country’s debt. Moody’s Investors Service rates Ivory Coast’s debt at Ba3, or three levels below investment grade, on par with Turkey.

SOURCES: BLOOMBERG

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Top 5 Opportunities for Investment in Djibouti

Bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea and situated between Eritrea and Somalia, Djibouti is the route to the sea for African countries such as South Sudan and Ethiopia. Ethiopian imports and exports account for more than 65% of the port activity at Djibouti’s container terminal. In the absence of a local Djiboutian consumer base, the foreign military presence provides a major portion of the consumer spending. The Somalis, known as big players in the trading and informal Djiboutian market, place their cash in real estate to avoid having money in banks. The country is also home to internationally renowned scuba diving places in the north. Unfounded and founded security concerns have kept the tourism sector from growing. At the same time, Djibouti’s touristic areas could use a heavy boost from investment in moderately priced, quality hotels as well as other touristic amenities. Salt production, logistics and education are also key sectors.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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East Africa Needs to Take Care of its Waters

A thriving trade in fish maw – made from the swim bladders of fish – could lead to the extinction of the Nile perch fish in east Africa’s Lake Victoria. Demand for fish maw has spawned such a lucrative business enterprise in the region that it is raising concerns of overfishing. The high profits involved mean that traders keep a low profile, and are secretive about their haul’s eventual destination, according to the women who gut the perch to extract the precious maw. Fish maw has various uses, including the manufacture of surgical sutures, but it is also a delicacy in China, where it is served in soups or stews in addition to being used as a source of collagen. It is also used to make water-resistant glue and in the production of isinglass, a refining agent involved in the manufacture of beer and wine. Ironically, Nile perch is an invasive species. It was introduced to Lake Victoria in 1950, and has been blamed for the disappearance of the native fish and interfering with the lake’s ecosystem. But it is now an important part of the local economy. According to a report commissioned by the German development agency GIZ in collaboration with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation in August 2018, the Chinese agents supplying maw had better opportunities for business growth compared with others in Uganda. There is still little knowledge of this trade in the region, and this in itself contributes to unsustainable fishing. For example no guidelines or policy exist to regulate the fish swim bladder trade in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Innovation will be Key in Transforming the Continent’s Urban Areas

Some 3,000 delegates, including four presidents, cabinet ministers, urban planners and population experts are attending the United Nations Habitat Assembly meeting this week in Nairobi. They are seeking better urban and sustainable planning to deal with rising populations as well the effects of climate change. At the inaugural U.N Habitat Assembly, delegates will put their heads together hoping to find solutions to make big cities more habitable. For Africa, urgent solutions are needed as the United Nations estimates nearly half of the continent’s populations live in slums. At the end of the five day summit, delegates plan to come up with a ministerial declaration with proposals on how to make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030.

SOURCES: VOA

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Africa-focused Private Equity Firm Goes Big

Helios Investment Partners LLP plans to raise a fund of about $1.25 billion to invest across the continent. The London-based company, led by Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyoye, is in talks with asset managers and development agencies about what would be its largest private equity fund for African investments, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. Helios could start the fund this year, but is no rush to do so, the company, which manages about $3.6 billion, closed a $1.1 billion Africa-focused fund in 2015 after exceeding a $1 billion target. Yet, foreign interest in Africa has been fickle. New York-based Blackstone Group LP is scaling back in Africa after less than five years and Bob Diamond, the former Barclays Plc chief, is turning his attention elsewhere after struggling to get his banking venture off the ground.

SOURCES: VENTUREBURN

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Environmentally-friendly Furniture Maker Strives to be the IKEA of Africa

Ciiru Waweru is a Kenyan entrepreneur who deploys the latest technology in her furniture factory, using computer-controlled cutting machines to make children-friendly fittings. Yet every day, a donkey cart delivers water to the FunKidz workshop located in Kikuyu town, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of the capital Nairobi. Water supply isn’t her only challenge: electricity is unreliable too and the facility has to use diesel generators time and again. Besides reducing productivity, these factors make the production process more expensive, hindering the final products’ competitiveness in the local and global market. Almost a decade since starting her company, FunKidz has however distinguished itself as a quality furniture brand, spreading beyond Kenya’s borders. FunKidz’s strategy aligns with a slew of programs launched in Kenya in the past year aimed at enabling sustainable businesses and planting 1.8 billion trees. Even as the East African nation aims to enhance its manufacturing sector from 9.2% to 20% of its gross domestic product by 2022, businesses have been encouraged to adopt climate mitigating practices and green technologies. Waweru says she’s struggled with training and retaining women at her factory but hopes her new business model will create a supply chain that employs more women, especially farmers, who can be paid to collect, shred, dry and package the waste. This also plays into her hope that authorities would boost small-scale, decentralized manufacturing businesses that can make products that are currently exported.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Ghana Prepares for its First Digital Population and Housing Census

Next March, the country will be joining Swaziland, Malawi and Kenya as one of the first countries in Africa to collect data electronically. The country’s previous census in 2010 were paper questionnaires which took months to gather and assemble the data, and around 3% of the population was left out of the survey. Now the government will be going digital, using tablets and satellite images to improve the reach of enumerators and make sure everyone in Ghana is counted on census night. The census is expected to cost $84 million, around 50% more than the last census. The government has contracted around 60,000 enumerators, but is still working with the United Nations on how best to source the 65,000 tablets required to conduct the surveys. Together with the homeless, they are the “floating population” whom government statisticians want to capture better in their database. And the stakes are higher this time, as the census will play a key part in the nationwide rollout of biometric ID cards launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2017. The new Ghana Card requires a digital address code, many of which will be generated by enumerators during the census.SOURCE: VOA

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Providing Relief for African Girls During that ‘Time of the Month’

When non-profit organization Femme International gave each girl at Ghona a pack of AFRIpads — reusable pads that last as long as eight hours and are effective for up to a year — it was a game changer, especially for girls from poorer backgrounds who were using old rugs as pads. In rural Tanzania, most women and girls on their period use “kanga,” layered pieces of thick, colorful fabric used for making traditional east African dresses. The stiff material gets wet quickly and often leads to urinary tract infections. Girls and women say they live in constant fear of bleeding through. There are no global statistics on how many girls miss school because of their periods, but anecdotal evidence shows that period absenteeism is common across much of the developing world. In Tanzania, 16% of girls say their periods keep them out of school, research by the Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network found. Girls are suffering fewer illnesses since using AFRIpads, made from absorbent, quick-drying fabric, that secures to underwear with snaps, Goodwine said. The school’s headmaster Peter Mushi said attendance has improved after the girls got AFRIpads. He doesn’t have precise figures, but said the effect was “noticeable.”SOURCE: CNN

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Checking Up on Rwandans 25 Years On

A Rwandan genocide survivor touring all 30 of the country’s provinces says he has been struck by the kindness of the people he has encountered on the way. Hyppolite Ntigurirwa is halfway through a 1,500km (932 mile) “peace walk”, marking 25 years since the 100-day genocide of 1994. He says he was perhaps most touched by the support of a young girl who wanted to join the walk and even offered to carry his bags but found they were too heavy. Now aged 32, Ntigurirwa was seven years old at the time of the genocide. He says the trauma of the past still gives him nightmares. “Forgiving is a journey and you can only do it if you think about the generations to come. It’s the hardest path you can take but it’s the one that can bring what we want in the world.” Today, his family has gone to great efforts to “invite these people who we knew who killed my relatives and my cousins… They now come in our ceremonies and they enjoy what we enjoy.” He hopes his 100-day walk can bring together other Rwandans in the same spirit. He says anyone he encounters is welcome to join him.SOURCE: BBC

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Using Dance to Entice Africa’s New Crop of Farmers

She made a name for herself as the choreographer behind one of the most controversial yet critically acclaimed music videos of last year. Now Sherrie Silver, the creative force behind the dance moves in Childish Gambino’s This Is America, is using her success to drive a social media campaign promoting investment in young people in rural Africa. The 24-year-old, told the Guardian she is on a mission to “make farming cool”, recently visited Cameroon where she carried out dance workshops with farmers and entrepreneurs, before creating the music video Freedom. Silver travelled to the village of Ndjore in the district of Mbandjock, an area with high levels of poverty and youth unemployment. The choreographer, born in Rwanda but raised in London, shot the video as part of a campaign for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad). It features some of the 2,000 young people in Cameroon who have benefited from start-up grants from Ifad to launch their own businesses.SOURCE:  THE GUARDIAN

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Cleaning Up Liberia’s Coffers

President George Weah announced an overhaul of the central bank’s leadership to restore confidence in an institution that has been beset by scandals and hampered efforts to deal with an economic crisis. The government will open nominations for a vetting committee to appoint the bank’s new leadership, said Weah. In July 2018, Weah ordered that $25 million should be injected in the economy to mop-up excess liquidity of Liberian dollars. An investigation by the state auditor found that only $17 million was used for this purpose. A separate inquiry into the alleged disappearance of about $100 million in cash that was printed abroad found that while no money was missing, there were lapses in the accuracy and completeness of the central bank’s internal records.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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What Nigeria Needs from Buhari’s Second Term

Muhammadu Buhari has been sworn in for a second term as Nigeria’s president as he vowed to tackle security threats and root out corruption. The 76-year-old leader was sworn in amid tight security in the Nigerian capital Abuja. He did not make a speech during the low-profile event attended by members of the diplomatic community. Nnamdi Obasi, Nigeria researcher at the International Crisis Group (ICG), told Al Jazeera that persisting tensions in the northeast region could escalate into more violence. Herders and farmers continue to fight  over land and water in Nigeria’s fertile central region, with the clashes between them claiming hundreds of lives and displacing thousands more. Oil sales account for the majority of the country’s foreign exchange reserves but communities in the oil-producing Niger Delta area have continued to complain of government neglect. The unemployment rate has more than doubled to 23 percent since Buhari assumed office in 2015, while Nigeria has 90 million people living in extreme poverty, more than than any other country, according to findings based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by the Brookings Institution. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and economic analysts say the next four years offer another opportunity to fix the problems.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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The Senegalese Opening that Pulled Big Names in Showbiz

It’s Sunday night in Dakar, and Naomi Campbell is vaping. Alicia Keys is taking selfies with fans by the open bar, her husband, the producer Swizz Beatz, bobs his head nearby and Kehinde Wiley, the American artist who brought everyone here, is dancing so close to the infinity pool that some guests at the launch party for his new residency program — Black Rock Senegal — wonder aloud if he’ll fall in. Black Rock, named after the volcanic stones on the shore, is a departure from many art projects in Africa, which tend to be supported by or commissioned with foreign money. Outside pressure can hinder free expression, experts say, when creators feel pushed to cater to tourists or aid workers.Wiley, who was born in Los Angeles to an African American mother and a Nigerian father, is known for his polychromatic renderings of black models with old school twists. He first visited Dakar two decades ago on a layover from Nigeria, where he’d gone to find his estranged dad, an architecture professor in the southern state of Akwa Ibom. Wiley’s program has grabbed the brightest spotlight, thanks to the buzz in 2018 from his official portrait of former president Barack Obama. The presence of his top model and Grammy-winning pals doesn’t hurt, either.SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST

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Namibia Sets the Conditions for Chinese Investment

Mines and energy minister says government has no objection to Rio Tinto’s sale of its uranium mine stake to China provided it respects the African nation’s laws. Rio, which is seeking to divest less profitable assets, said last November that it was selling its 69% stake in the world’s longest-running open pit uranium mine to China for up to $106.5 million and expected the deal to be completed in the first half of 2019. China already owns stakes in Namibian uranium production, which, along with diamonds, is the mainstay of the Namibian economy. Addressing concerns among Namibians that China will bring in foreign nationals to replace local employees, China National Uranium Corporation (CNUC) Vice President Li Youliang told a public hearing last week that was not the case. Rio Tinto is selling its stake in Rossing Uranium mine to CNUC in a deal dependent on approval from the Namibian competition commission. The Namibian government holds a 3% stake in Rossing and 51% of voting rights. The Iranian Foreign Investment Company also holds a legacy 15% stake that goes back to the original funding of the mine, which could have deterred some potential buyers.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

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A Cameroonian Learner’s Invention whilst School’s Out

A 16-year-old engineering apprentice, Awa Bless Chi, who fled the violent English-speaking Cameroon, found a home in the commercial capital Douala with his in-laws and explored his talent of building miniature bulldozers from recycled materials. In spite of his enthusiasm towards creating theses miniature machines, his biggest dream is to go back to school to continue his education. “I couldn’t go to school anymore because of the crisis. To do something useful, I made things. In Bamenda, there were no activities because of the dead cities (imposed by the armed separatists, editor’s note), so I decided to move to Douala, which is more secure,” he says. In the country’s economic capital, where he has been living with his brother-in-law for a month, the teenager recovered cardboard remains, plywood pieces, bamboo pieces and a little scrap metal. He then carefully assembles the materials to make small machines branded “Chi Style”. These are set in motion when the young prodigy connects them, with electrical cables, to batteries. Through his work, the teenager also wants to sensitize his classmates who have remained in the English-speaking area, urging them not to forget their dreams. Although over 600,000 children are deprived of education as a result of the crisis in Cameroon, this has done little to prevent young Awa Bless Chi from being productive and taking steps towards his dreams.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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Celebrating Africa’s Conservationist Activists

Jenerik Lekilelei, a Samburu warrior from Kenya, has been shortlisted for the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa in the category which highlights pioneering individuals who are coming up as leading conservationists. Lekilelei has been recognized for his work with a non-governmental organisation, Ewaso Lions, where he is the director of Community Conservation. Lekilelei mentors a new generation of conservationists and leads a programme, dubbed Warrior Watch, which converts young men who once killed lions into ambassadors for the species. Lekilelei’s Samburu tribe is a pastoralist community in northern Kenya where young men traditionally hunt lions to prove their bravery. Having grown up as a livestock herder, Lekilelei admits that lions were constantly viewed as an enemy. However, his perspective changed upon joining the NGO allowing him to appreciate the value of the species, whose numbers have been in decline in years. He also realised that humans hold the key to the survival of the big cats.SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

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Migrants take Desperate Measures to Get into Europe

An African man has been found crammed behind the glove box of a car in a bid to get to Europe — one of four people spotted in vehicles on the same day by authorities in Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla, in north Africa. Three people — including a 15-year-old girl — were found in separate cars at the Beni-Enzar border between Morocco and Melilla on May 24. An African migrant squeezed inside a compartment built behind a car dashboard. Two hid in special compartments behind the dashboard and a third was under a rear seat, images taken by Spain’s Civil Guard show. Two were treated by medics for asphyxia, disorientation and joint pain. A fourth person was also found on May 24 under a truck in the Melilla port. In recent years, thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe have tried to enter Spain via its two enclaves in north Africa, Melilla and Ceuta — with some scaling huge fences topped by razor wire.SOURCE: CNN

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Where Africa Stands on this Trump and Huawei Issue

The US ban on Huawei, the Chinese telecommunication giant, introduced uncertainty that should force consumers to attempt to diversify their products—an option that is not currently available to the average African government. This forces African states into a choice they have not sought and would rather not make, since Huawei is the singular dominant player in the construction of telecommunications backbone across the continent. Up to 70% of the continent’s IT spine is built by Huawei with a combination of Chinese grants and loans. Africa is still a continent where 19th, 20th and 21st century institutions, infrastructure and technologies exist side-by-side. In countries like Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, and even whole swathes of Nigeria, the overriding concern is not the potential of a devastating attack on critical IT infrastructure by an adversary who gained an advantage by building our systems. The concern is more prosaic—basic connectivity. It is about connecting each country to the internet in a way that is adequate, dependable and affordable. Africa’s strategic interests lie in a direction opposite to the US position on Huawei and with no like-for-like alternative from the West, it should be no surprise that when the internet fragments, as many are predicting it might, that cost will play a dominant role in what side Africa chooses.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Innovation will be Key in Transforming the Continent’s Urban Areas

Some 3,000 delegates, including four presidents, cabinet ministers, urban planners and population experts are attending the United Nations Habitat Assembly meeting this week in Nairobi. They are seeking better urban and sustainable planning to deal with rising populations as well the effects of climate change. At the inaugural U.N Habitat Assembly, delegates will put their heads together hoping to find solutions to make big cities more habitable. For Africa, urgent solutions are needed as the United Nations estimates nearly half of the continent’s populations live in slums. At the end of the five day summit, delegates plan to come up with a ministerial declaration with proposals on how to make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030.SOURCE: VOA

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Review: Youssou N’Dour’s Mastery of Multiple Styles and Languages

Aside from his sublime voice and onstage charisma, Senegal’s premier star has always been a musical innovator, fusing tradition and modernity. His early records mixed Cuban pop with Senegal’s mbalax heritage, while his rise to global superstar saw him weave together Africa and western pop – 1994’s hit Seven Seconds, with Neneh Cherry, remains an enduring cross-cultural gem. History, his first album in four years, has recast some old favourites, used material from the late Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, and offered a tribute to another fallen comrade, Habib Faye, which opens the set with a supple inviting groove. Two old numbers are reworked with young stars aboard. N’Dour recasts Birima, a tribute to Africa, with Sweden’s Seinabo Sey, and Hello, with Congolese singer Mohombi, as arena-sized crowd pleasers – the latter is already a breakout global hit. A brace from 1989’s Set, an abiding favourite back home, evoke N’Dour’s mbalax roots, with Salimata blessed by slinky saxophone. N’Dour sings with accustomed majesty throughout; sometimes commanding, sometimes anguished, an always urgent force of nature.SOURCE:  THE GUARDIAN

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Africa-focused Private Equity Firm Goes Big

Helios Investment Partners LLP plans to raise a fund of about $1.25 billion to invest across the continent. The London-based company, led by Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyoye, is in talks with asset managers and development agencies about what would be its largest private equity fund for African investments, the people said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private. Helios could start the fund this year, but is no rush to do so, the company, which manages about $3.6 billion, closed a $1.1 billion Africa-focused fund in 2015 after exceeding a $1 billion target. Yet, foreign interest in Africa has been fickle. New York-based Blackstone Group LP is scaling back in Africa after less than five years and Bob Diamond, the former Barclays Plc chief, is turning his attention elsewhere after struggling to get his banking venture off the ground.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

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Growing a New Generation of Trees

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has kicked off what is meant to be a mission to plant four billion trees across the country – Africa’s second most populous nation. The initiative which is under the banner of the National Green Development program is set to started during the rainy season. “Over the past years Ethiopia’s forest coverage has decreased (in recent years) and the initiative is set mobilize national reforestation at 40 trees per head,” the PM’s office said in a social media post. Abiy held discussions with the National Agri Transformation leaders in Adama city, in his home region of Oromia. He tasked participants – which included most high-profile government officials – on their role and responsibilities in modernizing the sector. Ethiopia has in recent years have suffered from the negative impact of climate change especially in relation to droughts in parts of the country. Reports indicate that in 2017, over 2 million animals died in Ethiopia due to drought because of the scarcity of rainfall.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

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London Streets Hostile for African Migrant Communities

Hundreds of British teenagers are being sent by their parents to East Africa to avoid knife crime in the UK. Of the 100 people stabbed to death in the UK so far this year, 8% were of Somali heritage, according to the Rise Projects which works with young British Somalis in north London. Jamal Hassan mentors young men in London, many from Somali families. He explains parents “want to protect that child by all means necessary”. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to Somalia, including Somaliland, and highlights a heightened threat of terrorism and kidnappings, across Kenya. But Amina sent her 15-year-old son to Somaliland, when she was worried about the new friends with whom he was mixing. In his year there, she says he became a studious child again. He had even wanted to stay in East Africa. But within 17 days of being brought back to the UK in November 2018, he was stabbed four times. The new mayor for Islington, Rakhia Ismail – a mother of four who came to London from Somalia as a refugee – believes that some areas of the city are unsafe for young people.SOURCE: BBC

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Aviation History As 20 South African Teens Tackle Cape To Cairo

An epic adventure, an aviation challenge, youth inspiration, promoting and supporting innovation, technology and entrepreneurship are all the key drivers combined for Africa’s development and transformation as twenty South African teenagers embark on a Cape – Cairo and back excursion in a self-assembled Sling-4 aircraft that uses ordinary motor fuel  and was built in three weeks! The excursion, earmarked to start in June 2019, will see different teams of the twenty teenagers pilot and charter a course that will cut across several African cities and towns spreading the key messages of an African narrative that started as a dream. Using specially modified, self-made drones, the Challenge will be documented on video as some of the teenagers fly alongside adult supervisors who will use a second Sling-4 aircraft for support to monitor proceedings. Six teenage pilots will take turns to fly the self-assembled plane as the Challenge moves from country to country.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

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East Africa Needs to Take Care of its Waters

A thriving trade in fish maw – made from the swim bladders of fish – could lead to the extinction of the Nile perch fish in east Africa’s Lake Victoria. Demand for fish maw has spawned such a lucrative business enterprise in the region that it is raising concerns of overfishing. The high profits involved mean that traders keep a low profile, and are secretive about their haul’s eventual destination, according to the women who gut the perch to extract the precious maw. Fish maw has various uses, including the manufacture of surgical sutures, but it is also a delicacy in China, where it is served in soups or stews in addition to being used as a source of collagen. It is also used to make water-resistant glue and in the production of isinglass, a refining agent involved in the manufacture of beer and wine. Ironically, Nile perch is an invasive species. It was introduced to Lake Victoria in 1950, and has been blamed for the disappearance of the native fish and interfering with the lake’s ecosystem. But it is now an important part of the local economy. According to a report commissioned by the German development agency GIZ in collaboration with the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation in August 2018, the Chinese agents supplying maw had better opportunities for business growth compared with others in Uganda. There is still little knowledge of this trade in the region, and this in itself contributes to unsustainable fishing. For example no guidelines or policy exist to regulate the fish swim bladder trade in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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One of the Continent’s Worst Polluters Transitions to Lower Emissions

South Africa’s long-delayed carbon tax has been enshrined in law, in its efforts to meet agreements on global climate change. The tax was first mooted in 2010 but has been postponed at least three times after mining companies, steelmakers and state-owned power utility Eskom said it would erode profit and push up electricity prices. The first phase of the tax is from 1 June to December 2022, with a tax rate of $8.34 (R120) per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. Allowable tax breaks will reduce the effective rate to between R6 and R48 per tonne of CO2. Big energy users, including Sibanye-Stillwater and ArcelorMittal’s South African operation, had previously opposed plans to enact carbon tax laws, saying the levies are unaffordable and should be scrapped or delayed. Local and overseas climate activists, however, believe the tax response falls short of emissions targets the country signed up for in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The tax is considered “highly insufficient” by the Climate Action Tracker group.

SOURCES: EYE WITNESS NEWS

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Nigerian Teens Challenge Tradition

Kudirat Abiola, 15, Temitayo Asuni, 15 and Susan Ubogu, 16, want to change the law on child marriage in Nigeria. The girls started an online petition to get lawmakers to close the legal loopholes that currently enable men to enter marriages with girls under 18. But they are unfazed by things others their age might be. More than a third of girls in Nigeria end up in child marriages, and with 22 million married before the age of 18, the nation has among the highest number of child brides in Africa, according to a 2018 UNICEF report. Campaigning for human rights is second nature to Abiola, who comes from a family of prominent activists. Abiola’s grandmother, also called Kudirat, fought for Nigeria’s democracy before she was assassinated in 1996. It came three years after the military jailed Moshood Kola Abiola, the apparent victor of the annulled 1993 presidential elections and the teenage activist’s grandfather. Ubogu taught herself to code at age 10 after taking lessons on the internet and already has a software company with two games in the Google Play store. The math geek says no girl should be denied her education because of marriage. Asuni says she has been reading newspaper articles of young girls being married off to men old enough to be their fathers since elementary school. The 15-year-old says she felt helpless about it until she met Ubogu and Abiola at a workshop in December organized by local NGO to educate students about the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The girls’campaign NeverYourFault specifically takes aim at a clause in Section 29 of the Nigerian constitution they say backs underage marriage.

SOURCES: CNN

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Tensions in Botswana’s Ruling Party

Botswana has announced the lifting of its ban on elephant hunting, attributing its decision to an apparent rise in “human-elephant conflict” caused by rising elephant numbers. Conservationists, however, criticized the move as not being grounded in science and said it could have negative effects on Botswana’s thriving wildlife-driven tourism industry. Botswana is home to the world’s largest elephant population, with about 130,000 living in the southern African country, according to conservationists. After diamonds, tourism is Botswana’s biggest foreign-income earner. The government banned hunting elephants in 2014 at the direction of then-President Ian Khama, a staunch conservationist. But the ban has been controversial in Botswana, where advocates for lifting the ban say the growing number of elephants has affected locals’ livelihoods. Khama over the weekend quit the governing BDP which has ruled since independence more than half a century ago, citing deep differences between him and his successor.

SOURCES: WASHINGTON POST | IOL

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Top 5 Opportunities for Investment in Djibouti

Bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea and situated between Eritrea and Somalia, Djibouti is the route to the sea for African countries such as South Sudan and Ethiopia. Ethiopian imports and exports account for more than 65% of the port activity at Djibouti’s container terminal. In the absence of a local Djiboutian consumer base, the foreign military presence provides a major portion of the consumer spending. The Somalis, known as big players in the trading and informal Djiboutian market, place their cash in real estate to avoid having money in banks. The country is also home to internationally renowned scuba diving places in the north. Unfounded and founded security concerns have kept the tourism sector from growing. At the same time, Djibouti’s touristic areas could use a heavy boost from investment in moderately priced, quality hotels as well as other touristic amenities. Salt production, logistics and education are also key sectors.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Sub-Saharan Africa is Set to Get its First Bullet Train

The 571km-long cross-border railway project dubbed the Isaka-Kigali SGR project linking landlocked Rwanda with Tanzania’s port at Dar es Salaam will cost US$2.5billion to complete. In a joint announcement, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete and Tanzania’s transportation minister Isack Kamwelwe declared the cost was established by an initial study.The cost will be split between the two nations with Tanzania forking out US$1.3bn and Rwanda US$1.2bn. The first 400km from Dar to Dodoma is currently underway and being built by Turkish/Portuguese consortium. The cross-border railway project will enable landlocked Rwanda to access the Dar es Salaam port in Tanzania. The line will also support the transfer of goods from Dar es Salaam port to Burundi and Congo. The Isaka-Kigali SGR project linking Isaka township in Tanzania with the Rwandan capital, Kigali was initially planned to be powered by diesel before it was switched to electric. Once complete, it is expected to provide improved railway connectivity and reduce freight transportation costs in the East Africa region.

SOURCES: PULSE

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Nigerians Scammed in Russian Football Gig

At around the time of the 2018 World Cup, several Nigerian men travelled to Russia on a promise. Agents in the African country had led them to believe that they would enjoy professional footballing careers in Russia, and they arrived with “fan-ID”, which provided visa-free entry. Almost a year later, some remain stranded in Russia having witnessed the ugliest side of the football business. They had been scammed. As they remained undocumented, the men suffered enormously. Alternativa, an NGO which fights forced labour and human trafficking in Russia is a reliable resource for foreigners in difficult situations in the country, and has been helping Africans stuck in Russia. Several Nigerian women, who were also lured during the World Cup by “agents” back home promising work, were soon forced into prostitution, often by fellow Nigerians in Moscow. Alternativa says it has helped some 40 scammed African footballers so far, but there are more and not only from Nigeria.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Rwanda’s Total Ban of Second Hand Imports Boosts Local Designers

At first glance, Matthew Rugamba’s big break was the result of pure serendipity. Since 2011, he has built a loyal following for his House of Tayo brand, fusing African heritage with contemporary designs to create brightly colored, mixed-print items like bow ties and infinity scarves. But he had struggled to break out from the local fashion scene. That changed in 2018, with the premiere of one of the most anticipated movies of the year: Black Panther, when Lupita Nyong’o’s brother wore his suit. But it wasn’t just luck, hustle, and connections that propelled Rugamba to the Hollywood red carpet. Rwanda, a small nation of 12 million people, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with aspirations of becoming a middle-income nation by 2035. And Rugamba is the beneficiary of one of a series of homegrown initiatives aimed at sustaining high and inclusive growth in different industries—including the country’s nascent fashion scene. One of those initiatives is “Made in Rwanda,” launched in 2015, which aims to recapture parts of the Rwandan market from imports while improving the competitiveness of Rwandan exports globally. How? By boosting (pdf) private businesses and the manufacturing sector, augmenting garment and leather production, reducing operation costs, and helping small businesses, like Rugamba’s, get finance from the government or commercial banks.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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First African Woman to Win the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival

French-Senagalese director Mati Diop has become the first black female director to win an award in Cannes’ 72-year history.  Diop took home the Grand Prix – the equivalent of a silver prize – for her film  Atlantics, a Senegalese drama about sexual politics among young migrants.  The 36-year-old had previously said she was a “little sad” to make history as the first woman of African descent to even have a film screened at the festival. “My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019. I knew it as I obviously don’t know any black women who came here before. I knew it but it’s always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still.”

SOURCES: INDEPENDENT

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Social Media Abuzz with Ethiopia’s Map Blunder

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry has apologised after a map of Africa on its website incorporated neighbouring Somalia within its own borders. “We sincerely regret any confusion and misunderstanding this incident might have caused,” the statement said. Somalia had been completely erased from the map, but the self-declared territory of Somaliland – which is not internationally recognised – was shown. The neighbours have long been rivals, fighting borders wars in the past. But relations between the two countries have improved since Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power last year as he has sought to defuse tensions in the region. The map has caused an uproar on social media, with Somalis saying it reveals a wider plan by Ethiopia to annex their country. Others hit back, with their own version of a map of Africa, incorporating Ethiopia into Somalia. Some have noticed other problems with the map published on the Ethiopian website, for example, it showed that the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo had become one country and it did not show South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011.

SOURCES: BBC

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Female Entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa

In an increasingly interconnected world, the rise in technology-based businesses is playing a crucial role in narrowing the gender gap and pushing female entrepreneurship forward. As national economies face stiff competition for specialist market skills and resources, a number of startups are drawing international interest. There are also a number of global initiatives supporting and propelling female-run businesses on the continent. Speaking at SheMeansBusiness, an initiative designed to empower female entrepreneurs across Nigeria, Facebook’s policy programmes head in Africa, Sherry Dzinoreva, said that the company would be intensifying its female entrepreneurship training. But despite the launch of such initiatives there are still a number of challenges women need to overcome. Across Africa, women are prevented from pursuing a career in business through overt and hidden discriminatory practices. In sub-Saharan Africa, at least 40% of the labour force is female, according to the Pew Research Centre. However, 74% of women’s non-agricultural employment is informal, in contrast with 61% for men. In the private sector, African women hold 23% of positions at executive committee level and just 5% of CEO-level jobs, according to McKinsey. Access to capital and exclusion from male dominated business networks constrain women’s participation in business.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Some of the Biggest Challenges Facing Jumia

Like its rivals in many developing countries, Jumia offers payment on delivery “as a marketing tactic” since customers are worried about being scammed and are uncomfortable sharing their information online. To attract as many customers as possible, Jumia also has a travel website, an event and movie ticket business, a food delivery service and a payments system that gives users access to microloans. Jumia has spent a lot of money in its aggressive drive to gain market share, logging roughly $1 billion in losses, including $195.2 million on revenue of $149.6 million last year. Poignonnec says Jumia is focused on driving down costs while gaining users, but that the hundreds of millions of dollars it has invested over the past seven years has given it the scale to be the only Pan-African e-commerce player — even as rivals have withered. Last year, Jumia’s Nigerian rival Konga, which is backed by Naspers, was sold to Zinox, a data center and computer firm, after cutting roughly 60 percent of its staff. A number of other e-commerce sites have downsized, shut down or pivoted into other businesses. Being Pan-African has also helped Jumia sign partnerships with companies like Pernod Ricard, Mastercard and Xiaomi, the Chinese mobile phone maker, which would prefer to sign one big deal rather than individual country-level deals, the executives say. The the diversity of its markets allowed Jumia to use smaller countries such as Ghana or Ivory Coast as labs for projects they might roll out in bigger markets like Nigeria and Egypt — or, in the case of JumiaPay, which debuted in those two large markets in 2017, vice versa.

SOURCES: OZY

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More African Firms are Leveraging Influencers as part of their Marketing Strategy

Social and digital media have given room for new ways businesses can engage and sell to their customers. Increasingly gaining traction in South Africa is influencer marketing, an entirely new branch of the sales and marketing funnel which has seen brands leverage popular personalities on social media to promote their products and services online. Globally, the influencer marketing industry is forecast to be worth $5 billion to $10 billion by 2020, according to a study by Mediakix.  In the digital universe, content is king. Authenticity is paramount. A study conducted by the Mobile Marketing Association reported that most consumers have banner blindness and suffer from advertising fatigue. They cannot recall the last digital banner ad that they saw. Ad-blocking continues to be a growing phenomenon, further demonstrating the shift in consumer behavior. Consumers simply don’t want to be marketed to. To this effect, influencers assist brands to reach their customers through content that is more relevant to those consumers.Brands and agencies measure awareness and engagement by analyzing a few parameters, including, inter alia, number of likes, comments, shares and followers. Proponents of this theory believe an increase in these parameters lead to brand success.

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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10 Best African Countries for Doing Business 2019

The Doing Business index is a ranking index system, created by the World Bank Group, which indicates the regularity environment of businesses. A higher ranking, which is indicated by a lower numerical value, specifies a stronger protection of property rights, and vice versa. Over 190 economies have been scrutinized on criteria including: electrification and ease of business creation, the tax burden and the protection of property rights. Mauritius is positioned in 20th place worldwide, and in 1st place in Africa with a score of 79.58. The country is ranked twentieth place higher this year, from its position in the 2018. Rwanda emerged in the top 30 countries of the World Bank’s Doing Business report for the first time with a score of 77.88. Globally, Rwanda is 29st on the “ease of doing business” ranking, compared to the 41th position in last year’s report. In addition, the country has made 52 reforms over the last decade, bringing significant improvements to the environments of business and investment. Morocco came in 3rd in Africa and in 60th position with a score of 71.02 points. Therefore, Morocco confirms its position as a leader in North Africa, ahead of: Tunisia (80th), Egypt (120th), and Algeria (157th). Kenya came in 4th among African countries and 61st position globally with a score of 70.31 points compared to the 2018 report when it was ranked 80th.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Plastic Bag Bans are Working and are Especially Effective in African Nations

As of June 1, travelers to Tanzania will have to pack very carefully. The country announced the implementation of the second phase of its plastic bag ban on May 16. Visitors are advised to avoid packing or carrying any plastic bags as they’ll have to leave these at a designated desk in the airport. The first phase of the country’s anti-plastic initiative began in 2017 to “protect the youth and environment,” with an initial ban on the manufacture of plastic bags and in-country distribution. Phase two extends to tourists. There are exceptions to the new rule for medical, industrial, construction, agricultural, and waste management packaging, as well as for the small “ziploc” bags used to carry toiletries (as long as these leave the country when the visitors do). Still, Tanzania aims to be plastic bag free, and it’s just one of 34 African nations fighting against single-use plastics with such bans. In fact, the African continent is leading the world in plastic bag regulations. Notably, 31 of these bans have been passed in sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, the penalties for ignoring the ban are the world’s most punitive. Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and users found with plastic bags face up to $38,000 in fines or four years in prison. The ban has faced resistance, and enforcement is also a problem—it’s spotty, which means that plastic bags are still circulating despite the potential penalties. Still, in a country that once used about 100 million plastic bags a year, according to UN estimates, the reduction efforts are notable and seem to be effective. Rwanda is aiming to be the world’s first plastic-free country, and its prohibitions appear to be working. The UN named the country’s capital, Kigali, the African continent’s cleanest city, thanks in part to a 2008 ban on non-biodegradable plastic.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Making Nigeria’s Movie Scene a Contributor to the Economy

Top producers, filmmakers, and executives from Nigeria’s film industry travelled to France for the Cannes Film Festival’s first “Pavillon Afriques,” a series of sessions and screenings highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing filmmakers from across the continent. Their goal: raising visibility for Nollywood and participating in discussions about financing, dealmaking, and the expansion of distribution. Nollywood, the nickname for Nigeria’s robust film industry, has long been hamstrung by piracy. For years filmmakers have watched with frustration as swarms of illegitimate DVDs quickly overwhelmed their promising cinematic efforts, slashing potential profits and making it difficult to raise money to produce future films. But in the spring of 2019 the makers of Chief Daddy managed to cash in on a new window of opportunity, this time online. EbonyLife sold the movie’s global streaming rights to Netflix Inc., for an undisclosed sum. In March the streaming service made the movie available to 149 million customers in 190 countries, most of whom live well beyond the reach of those pirated DVDs. That’s welcome news to the Nollywood community, which since its inception in the 1990s has emerged as a promising source of growth within the Nigerian economy. According to a 2017 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Nollywood is the second-largest producer of films in the world, trailing only India’s Bollywood. Nigeria’s arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, of which Nollywood is a significant part, generated 239 billion naira ($664 million) in 2016 and is projected to continue growing.

SOURCES: BLOOMBERG

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People Wait for Zimbabwe’s Mega Deals to Materialise

Together with the enthusiastic support of state media, Mnangagwa and his officials have announced more than $27bn of planned investment ranging from new platinum mines to steel mills and hydropower dams. Medicines, fuel and foreign currency are in short supply, prices of basic goods such as bread are surging and the International Monetary Fund has forecast the first economic contraction in 11 years. And many of the investment projects announced by the government haven’t progressed beyond the memorandum of understanding or feasibility stage. Few companies with a “rational level of risk appetite” will invest in the country in its current state, said Jee-A van der Linde, an economist at NKC African Economics. The African Development Bank estimated foreign direct investment last year at $470 million, about a third of the $1.1 billion attracted by northern neighbor Zambia and a fraction of the $2.3 billion that flowed into Mozambique, which lies to the east. For some Zimbabweans, the investment pledges evoke memories of Mugabe, who was prone to announcing mega-deals that didn’t materialize. For example, in September 2017 Mugabe announced plans to revive Zimbabwe Iron & Steel Works Ltd., once the second-largest steelmaker in sub-Saharan Africa. The project never got off the ground.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Going Down for Mozambique Maritime Scandal

An ex-Credit Suisse Group AG banker became the first person to plead guilty in what U.S. prosecutors called a $2 billion fraud and money-laundering scam tied to loans to Mozambique that were used to pay bribes and kickbacks. Detelina Subeva, 37, a former vice president in the bank’s global financing unit, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of conspiracy to launder funds. The U.S. agreed to drop three other conspiracy charges against Subeva, who’s one of three Credit Suisse bankers accused of working with Mozambique’s ex-finance minister in a secret kickback scheme. The case centers on deals that allowed Mozambique to borrow $2 billion for maritime projects and coastline protection in 2013. The bonds sold to finance the loans were marketed to international investors to aid the economy and thwart sea piracy, but prosecutors say at least $200 million were plundered in the form of bribes and kickbacks.

SOURCES: BLOOMBERG

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Ethiopia’s Cash Cow Programme

Farmers in Ethiopia have joined a program that helps them borrow money to purchase a dairy cow and get it insured. The milk would bring in much-needed income – as much as $10.45 a day. As climate change tests the livelihoods of crop farmers and herders, the innovative scheme aims to foster a culture of saving and micro-insurance – but not all has gone smoothly. Run by UK-based nonprofit Farm Africa, the project organizes farmers into savings groups and links them with micro-finance companies that give them loans to buy cows for extra income. They then sign up to insurance policies to ensure they can still repay their loans if their cows die. But some farmers complain such market-driven initiatives leave participants waiting too long for the money to come in. According to Farm Africa, since the project launched in 2015, it has established more than 340 village savings and loans associations, through which households have put away more than $100,000 and farmers have accessed nearly $70,000 in loans. Addis Ababa-based Nyala Insurance S.C., which provides the livestock cover, said payouts to a few farmers had been delayed. That was mainly because of the technology Nyala agents use to record and submit claims while in the field, said Solomon Zegeye, micro-insurance business manager at the company.

SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA

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Rwandan Genocide Survivor Starts Empowerment Programme

Safi Mukundwa knows what it means to be young, fearful and desperate. She was just 8 years old when she hid among bloodied bodies, emerging as the only one in her family to survive the 1994 genocide that swept through Rwanda. She remembers the man who killed her mother and brother. “I told God that if I can get out of this place alive, I will dedicate my life to helping others,” she says. Now 33, Mukundwa has made good on that commitment through Safi Life, the nonprofit organization that she inspired. Its mission is to educate, empower and advance young Rwandan women. Safi Life was formally launched in 2012, growing out of a friendship between its namesake and Devon Ogden. Both women were college students when Ogden, an American from California, visited Rwanda in the summer of 2007 and heard Mukundwa’s testimony at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. They met over lunch, and Ogden eventually asked how she might help the young Rwandan. The foundation’s Facebook page brims with photos of college graduates. In early 2018, Safi Life launched an outreach project to aid young women, especially those who are single and pregnant or with young children. It opened a center in the Kigali suburb of Karembure, welcoming dozens to learn knitting, tailoring and other income-producing skills. The project, called Ndashoboye, a Kinyarwanda word that means “I am capable,” also provides mentoring on how to run a business. A second center opened in January in Ndera, a few kilometers from the capital city’s downtown.

SOURCES: VOA

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RIP to Kenyan Author Binyavanga Wainaina

Known as one of Africa’s best-known authors and gay rights Activists, Wainaina died on Tuesday night in Nairobi after a short illness at age 48. His death was confirmed by Tom Maliti, the chairman of the Kwani Trust, which Wainaina founded. Wainaina, who won the 2002 Caine prize for African writing, made headlines around the world in 2014, when he responded to a wave anti-gay laws around the continent by publicly outing himself in a short essay, published to mark his 43rd birthday. He also revealed he was HIV positive. Calling it the “lost chapter” of his 2011 memoir “One Day I Will Write About This Place”, the essay I Am a Homosexual, Mum reimagined the last days of his mother’s life, in which he went to her deathbed and told her the truth about his sexuality. After Wainaina came out, Time magazine in 2014 named him one of its 100 most influential people, with Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie praising him for having “demystified and humanised homosexuality” after the death of a Kenyan friend, whose family were prevented from holding a church memorial. Wainaina was also known for his biting essay How to Write About Africa, which included the advice: “Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Cairo Hops on the Superfood Trend

In Egypt, at least 2,000 farmers are growing quinoa with the help of foreign aid agencies. The booming demand for the superfood — global production of quinoa between 2009 and 2019 tripled from 75,000 to 230,000 metric tons — is only one part of the equation. A rare resilience to different conditions is allowing researchers to experiment with variants of the crop in diverse locations, turning quinoa into a potent agricultural product that can survive climate change. The crop that originated in the cool, tropical mountains of the Andes is now being cultivated in hot and dry Saudi Arabia; in Central Asia’s Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; and in the limited sun of Scandinavia’s Denmark and Sweden.

SOURCES: OZY

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Nigeria has One of the World’s Highest Rates of Kidnap-for-ransom Cases

Thousands of Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom and other purposes over the years. Kidnapping has prevailed in spite of measures put in place by the government. The Nigerian police’s anti-kidnapping squad, introduced in the 2000s, has endeavored to stem the menace, but this been to no avail, mainly due to a lack of manpower and poor logistics. Kidnapping can be targeted at individuals or at groups. School children have been kidnapped in groups in various parts of Nigeria. Usually, the prime targets of kidnapping for ransom are those considered to be wealthy enough to pay a fee in exchange for being freed. The kidnapping business in Nigeria has been mostly perpetrated by criminal gangs and violent groups pursuing political agendas. Bandits have often taken to kidnapping for ransom to make money. The escapades of the famous kidnap kingpin, Evans, speak volumes of this pattern of kidnapping. Evans was a multimillionaire kidnapper who was arrested in Lagos a few years ago and is currently in detention awaiting trial.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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The Challenges of Being the World’s Most Rapidly Urbanizing Continent

In sub-Saharan Africa, the urban population has doubled since the mid-1990s, and reached 400 million people in 2016. According to experts, 40 percent of the region’s total population resides in cities, compared to 31 percent in 2000. During the next 15 years, the United Nations predicts the world’s 10 fastest-growing cities will be in Africa. However, the development of infrastructure and industries has not kept pace with the growth in urban population. Sixty percent of city dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa live in slums, and only 25 percent have access to safe drinking water. Poor sewage systems and weak flood control present another challenge. Most of Africa’s urban growth is in small and mid-sized cities, with slightly more than half of African urban dwellers living in cities with populations of less than 250,000.

SOURCES: VOA

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Somalia’s Tourism Blossoms on Popular Beach

Few restaurateurs consider the threat of piracy in their plans but Abdulkadir Mohamed did so for his La Lanterna floating restaurant now moored off Mogadishu’s popular Lido beach. “We considered that pirates could hijack it, and use it to attack cargo ships, so we made it slow so pirates would not see it as a prize vessel to seize and use in any of their attacks.” he says.  With extra security and checkpoints to protect the 2.5 km (1.5 mile) stretch of sand from possible Islamist attacks, the beach offers a place to escape from the battle-scarred capital. Pirates were once the scourge of the region, chasing oil tankers and other ships and demanding ransoms for those they captured. But as Somalia has regained a semblance of stability after almost three decades of conflict and chaos, piracy has faded, even if sporadic bombings still strike the capital. Abdifitah Mohamed Siyad, director of tourism and investment in Mogadishu’s local government, said the city had been ruined by wars and most people had “stories of grief”. He says, “The remedy for the people is to create happiness for them, create an environment for tourism, a time for them to tour, a time for them to chat and forget the past.”

SOURCES: REUTERS

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South Africa Lawmakers Sworn In

South Africa’s sixth democratic Parliament has elected parliament’s new speaker and the new president of the country. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presided over the swearing in of new MPs. The chief justice will also preside over the election of the president, as prescribed by the Constitution. This will also follow the same procedure as that of the election of the speaker: nomination, secondment, and an election if there is more than one candidate. Last year, when Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president, he was the only candidate nominated. Once elected, the president ceases to be a Member of Parliament. The next person on the president’s party list will take the seat vacated by the president-elect.  When elected president, a person ceases to be a member of the National Assembly. The Constitution states that within five days the president-elect must assume office by swearing or affirming faithfulness to the republic and obedience to the Constitution. The president-elect will not take the oath or affirmation in Parliament on Wednesday.

SOURCES: NEWS 24

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Gabon’s Cabinet Reshuffle

Vice President and Minister of State for Forests and the Environment have been relieved of their posts by presidential decree in connection with a timber scandal that rocked the central African country. The latest development is an offshoot of what has become known as the “Kevazingo Gate” in which illegally felled special hardwood of 353 containers worth nearly $250 million was reported stolen from a cache of 392 intercepted at the port of Owendo in late February and early March this year.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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Germany Commits to Accounting for its Colonial Past in Namibia

Germany is set to return a 15th Century artifact it took from Namibia known as the Stone Cross.  The 3.5-meter high navigation landmark, erected by Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão, was first placed on Namibia’s coast in 1498. It was taken to Germany in 1893 after the area became a German imperial protectorate and is on display at the German Historical Museum in Berlin. The Stone Cross, which bears the Portuguese coat of arms, was featured on old world maps, the museum said. In June 2017, the Namibian government formally requested its return. Faced with mounting pressure from African governments, more European countries are working to return artifacts plundered from Africa during colonial times.

SOURCES: CNN

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Zimbabwe Announces a Fresh Increase in Fuel Prices

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) said petrol would cost 46 percent more with a litre costing $1. ZERA said the move followed new measures by the central bank removing a subsidy and a preferable exchange rate for fuel importers. Treasury’s permanent secretary George Guvamatanga said the government would subsidise public transport and that the state bus company would charge a maximum of RTGS$1 for local trips to cushion commuters from the effects of the fuel price hikes.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Building a Strong Ethical Fashion Brand that Promotes African Craftsmanship

Chioma Ogbudimkpa is a sustainability advocate and a Green Champion. She incorporates sustainability into her fashion brand, while still maintaining fundamental design principles. “There are several ways I have built in ethical fashion principles in my processes, including using recyclable paper packaging, ensuring minimal waste, ethical production processes and fusing sustainable materials.” She has been actively involved in the ‘Going Green’ Initiative from the YALI Network since 2015. She started her entrepreneurship journey with the launch of her women’s wear label, Redbutton in 2017 to explore her creative side. Following this, Chioma has received a seat at the table of various local and international platforms; she is a ‘She Leads Africa’ (SLA) Accelerator beneficiary of 2017, a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and the winner, Creative Business Cup Nigeria 2019. She will be representing Nigeria at the Global Creative Business Cup in Denmark this July. She’s also an alumnus and beneficiary of the Nigeria Creative Enterprise (NICE) program 2019 powered by the British Council.

SOURCES: SHE LEADS AFRICA

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Plastic Bag Bans are Working and are Especially Effective in African Nations

As of June 1, travelers to Tanzania will have to pack very carefully. The country announced the implementation of the second phase of its plastic bag ban on May 16. Visitors are advised to avoid packing or carrying any plastic bags as they’ll have to leave these at a designated desk in the airport. The first phase of the country’s anti-plastic initiative began in 2017 to “protect the youth and environment,” with an initial ban on the manufacture of plastic bags and in-country distribution. Phase two extends to tourists. There are exceptions to the new rule for medical, industrial, construction, agricultural, and waste management packaging, as well as for the small “ziploc” bags used to carry toiletries (as long as these leave the country when the visitors do). Still, Tanzania aims to be plastic bag free, and it’s just one of 34 African nations fighting against single-use plastics with such bans. In fact, the African continent is leading the world in plastic bag regulations. Notably, 31 of these bans have been passed in sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, the penalties for ignoring the ban are the world’s most punitive. Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and users found with plastic bags face up to $38,000 in fines or four years in prison. The ban has faced resistance, and enforcement is also a problem—it’s spotty, which means that plastic bags are still circulating despite the potential penalties. Still, in a country that once used about 100 million plastic bags a year, according to UN estimates, the reduction efforts are notable and seem to be effective. Rwanda is aiming to be the world’s first plastic-free country, and its prohibitions appear to be working. The UN named the country’s capital, Kigali, the African continent’s cleanest city, thanks in part to a 2008 ban on non-biodegradable plastic.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Changing the Message about Disease in Africa

Dayn Amade, founder of Maputo-based technology company Kamaleon, is calling for the World Health Organization and aid groups to reassess how people on the African continent are educated about disease prevention. Amade is the creator of a digital platform called the community tablet, an interactive platform through which people can be educated and informed about issues impacting their lives. The device, which runs on up to six large, solar-powered LCD screens and is transported on a trailer, can be attached to anything from a car to a donkey, enabling it to reach even the most remote or isolated rural communities. Amade offers his tablets as part of the solution to educating those most affected by the disease. Created in 2015, Amade claims the device has helped to educate over a million people across 90 communities. Presentation is critical when explaining health initiatives, Amade said. Using images of people of the same ethnic appearance, dress and dialect as the audience can make people more receptive, encouraging them to feel they are being engaged by one of their own rather than just handed a printed pamphlet.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Will it be out with the Old in Malawi?

Malawi’s outgoing President, Peter Mutharika, 78, takes another shot at extending his political career on Tuesday in an uncertain presidential election, where he will face an opposition leader and two members of his own government. More than 6 million voters of the poor and agricultural southern African country, which is highly dependent on international aid, will also elect their MPs and local councillors on the same day. Peter Mutharika, who has been in power since 2014, is running for a second term against seven other candidates. His presidency has been tarnished by corruption cases, despite his commitment to fight this scourge. He was personally involved in a $3.9 million bribe case. He first stated that he was “convinced that it was an honest donation”, before being forced to repay $200,000. During campaign, Mutharika carefully avoided mentioning the scandal. Mutharika’s main opponents on Tuesday – his Vice-President Saulos Chilima, his Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi and opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera – naturally made the fight against corruption one of their main campaign arguments.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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The DRC’s Underground Doctors

Some doctors fighting the second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history are afraid to wear scrubs. They mask their identities to avoid harassment and violence in Congo, where the epidemic is spreading at the fastest rate since it started in August — and where rampant misinformation fuels a distrust of outsiders in medical garb. The World Health Organization has logged 119 attacks this year against health workers. Eighty-five have been wounded or killed. Fear is changing tactics among aid staffers, who set out to convince communities that Ebola is real and they were there to help end it. Now some downplay their mission in public, swapping white coats for street clothes and attention-grabbing SUVs for motorbikes that blend into traffic. “Our staff has to lie about being doctors in order to treat people,” said Tariq Riebel, emergency response director in Congo for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global aid group.

SOURCES: WASHINGTON POST

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Rwandan Genocide Survivor Starts Empowerment Programme

Safi Mukundwa knows what it means to be young, fearful and desperate. She was just 8 years old when she hid among bloodied bodies, emerging as the only one in her family to survive the 1994 genocide that swept through Rwanda. She remembers the man who killed her mother and brother. “I told God that if I can get out of this place alive, I will dedicate my life to helping others,” she says. Now 33, Mukundwa has made good on that commitment through Safi Life, the nonprofit organization that she inspired. Its mission is to educate, empower and advance young Rwandan women. Safi Life was formally launched in 2012, growing out of a friendship between its namesake and Devon Ogden. Both women were college students when Ogden, an American from California, visited Rwanda in the summer of 2007 and heard Mukundwa’s testimony at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. They met over lunch, and Ogden eventually asked how she might help the young Rwandan. The foundation’s Facebook page brims with photos of college graduates. In early 2018, Safi Life launched an outreach project to aid young women, especially those who are single and pregnant or with young children. It opened a center in the Kigali suburb of Karembure, welcoming dozens to learn knitting, tailoring and other income-producing skills. The project, called Ndashoboye, a Kinyarwanda word that means “I am capable,” also provides mentoring on how to run a business. A second center opened in January in Ndera, a few kilometers from the capital city’s downtown.

SOURCES: VOA

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SA Tourists in the Line of Fire

At least 17 people were wounded in an explosion that targeted a tourist bus on its way to visit Egypt’s Giza pyramids. The bus was carrying 25 South African citizens when a device exploded near the bus, while the windshield of another vehicle was damaged. Tourists arrived in Cairo airport at noon Sunday and were on their way to visit the Great Pyramids of Giza when the blast hit their bus, a tour guide and one of the tourists told CNN outside Al-Haram Hospital where they were taken. Ten tourists and seven Egyptians were brought to Al-Haram Hospital with minor injuries. Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania A. Al Mashat called it a “minor explosion” in a Twitter post. “Of the 28 passengers on the bus we can confirm some minor injuries with three being treated at the hospital as a precaution,” she wrote. South Africa’s government issued a statement on Sunday, saying the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, had been informed about the incident.

SOURCES: CNN

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Mozambique’s Muslims Struggle to Observe Ramadan

In an ordinary year, the villagers would be observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, fasting from sunrise to sunset and praying, but this year, life seems extraordinarily difficult. Many are trying to rebuild their lives nearly a month since Cyclone Kenneth ripped through the northern coast, where the majority of Mozambique’s Muslims live. The country’s central region was still reeling from Cyclone Idai that made landfall over two days in mid-March causing devastation across three Southern African countries, killing over 1,000 people. A handful of men and very few women regularly attend prayers in the mosque where the old roof has been badly damaged. In previous years the meal would be shared with poorer members of the community, Amad says this Ramadan there is no communal meal. Instead, worshippers come for sunset prayer with small lunchboxes of food to break the fast with others. 

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Human Rights in Kenya’s Domestic Affairs

A charity in Kenya is calling for the introduction of laws to protect domestic workers, commonly referred to as housegirls, to ensure their safety. In Uganda, young women are leaving their homes to try and find jobs as domestic workers, but for some their new lives can lead to mistreatment and abuse. BBC Africa Eye has been investigating why young women living near Uganda’s border are leaving their villages to find work in Kenya.  On arrival in Nairobi, the girls find accommodation in informal settlements, several of them decide to share a house to cost share on costs. Meanwhile, the influx of girls migrating from Uganda to Nairobi looking for housemaid jobs is making life difficult for local house helps. The girls come in illegally; they are desperate and can take any amount of money. One Kenyan domestic worker tells BBC,” Employers now prefer Ugandan workers for they accept low wages and don’t travel back to Uganda often.” She says employers now pay locals very low wages because the Ugandan ladies are setting the bar too low.

SOURCES: BBC | THE STAR

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South Sudan Trims the Fat

South Sudan will close some of its embassies abroad as the war-torn country seeks to trim government costs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mawien Makol Ariik said. Most of the land-locked East African nation’s revenue comes from oil sales, which have been hampered by a decline in prices and an uprising in neighboring Sudan where its exports are shipped from. Ariik said didn’t say how many embassies would be shut.  Last week the government sacked 40 overseas diplomats for not showing up for work, some of them for years. The foreign ministry in Juba said it had tried in vain “to engage with these diplomats who went Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) over the past few months and years”, including some posted to embassies in the United States and United Kingdom. None had replied or returned home after finishing their postings – prompting their mass firing in a terse memo issued by the foreign ministry.

SOURCES: BLOOMBERG | CHRONICLE

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A Resilience of an African Art Scene that Refuses to Go Away Quietly

Just when everyone thought the Algerian political crisis had caused its Pavilion to disappear from the official map with the country’s first-time participation in the Venice Biennale postponed to 2021, some of the artists chosen for the show, curated by Hellal Mahmood Zoubir, have decided to stage a guerrilla exhibition, titled Time to Shine Bright. Since its independence in 1962, Algeria has mostly been absent from major international cultural events. As a major African country, artists believe Algeria, like Ghana and Madagascar, deserves to have its first pavilion at the Venice Biennale this year, alongside other newcomers like Malaysia and Pakistan. It is not only that Algerian artists wanted to present their work within an artistic project of a pavilion, but believe it is a responsibility and a civic duty to honor the country of Algeria and its flag at the most important Biennals. The Venice Biennale is an international intellectual competition of contemporary arts, and for some the aim is to compete and win the Golden Lion.

SOURCES: TRUE AFRICA

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Expert View: 7 Leading Photographers from Across the African Continent

As the market for African art has experienced explosive growth, so too has the interest in and proliferation of African photography. CNN asked 4 African art experts for their picks of today’s most promising talents. Touria El Glaoui is the creative force behind 1-54, an international art fair helping to introduce leading African artists to the global market. She spotlighted photographer Phumzile Khanyile from South Africa. Helen Jennings, editorial director and co-founder of Nataal magazine, a digital and print publication focused on contemporary African fashion, arts and culture, chose to highlight visual artist Prince Gyasi from Ghana. Maheder Haileselassie Tadese, member of the Everyday Africa collective which aims to change perceptions about Africa, spotlighted Kenya’s Brian Otieno. As the founder and director of the international art fair, Art x Lagos, Tokini Peterside has helped amplify African artists’ voice in the global market. She selected two Nigerian photographers, Kadara Enyeasi and Lakin Ogunbanwo.         

SOURCES: CNN

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The Africa-Inspired Furniture Designs of Jomo Tariku Are Just Gorgeous

Kenyan born and of Ethiopian descent, designer Jomo Tariku has introduced a line of furniture inspired by Africa to make you swoon. His beautiful wood pieces are handmade and inspired by the artisans of Sub-Saharan Africa. The two chairs in his collection are the result of his obsession with traditional three-legged stools. The Nyala chair came from a sketch developed after seeing the beautiful horns of the male mountain antelope, and the MeQuamya chair was inspired by the T-shaped prayer staffs used in Ethiopian Orthodox church ceremonies. Tariku says when he started in 2008,  the standard definition of African furniture was either European furniture upholstered with colorful batik fabrics, or hand-crafted pieces, or recycled or upcycled furniture, masks, and so on. That did not align with his approach to designing modern African furniture. 

SOURCES: ELLE DECOR

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Video: Wanuri Kahiu on How ‘Rafiki’ Took the World by Storm Since Premiering at Cannes

Although still banned in the director’s home country of Kenya, ‘Rafiki’ has become an international sensation since it debuted in Cannes, the first Kenyan film to be invited to the prestigious festival. In ‘Moments With: Wanuri Kahiu,’ OkayAfrica sat down with Kenyan director, Wanuri Kahiu where she touches on the inspiration behind ‘Rafiki,’ the continued challenge to lift the ban of her film in her home country, Afrobubblegum and more.

SOURCES: OKAYAFRICA

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The Day Apartheid Died: Photos of South Africa’s First Free Vote

Recent elections in South Africa marked 25 years since the fall of apartheid, and this photo essay commemmorates the country’s first free election. It was the first in which citizens of all races were able to vote — horrific acts of violence threatened to undermine the hopes for a South Africa freed from white minority rule. White supremacists assassinated a young black leader in his driveway. A mob stoned and stabbed an American volunteer to death, shouting “one settler, one bullet.” And in the black townships, political rivalries set off deadly attacks in which people were burned alive. Yet, the final transfer of power was a remarkably peaceful, joyful four days. Millions of black South Africans, finally full citizens in the land of their ancestors, stood in line for hours, patiently waiting for the chance to vote for new leaders and end the brutal subjugation of the apartheid system. 

SOURCES: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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Colors of the Earth: Ghana’s Incredible, Rammed Earth Walls

Rammed earth construction is gaining new popularity as an economical, sustainable and potentially beautiful form of architecture, especially at the hands of Ghana’s Joelle Eyeson. The young African entrepreneur, is betting that it may be the answer to the housing deficit in her region. This is a rudimentary construction system in which earth is compressed into wooden boxes and the clay is horizontally placed in layers of 15 cm in height, and compacted with manual or pneumatic tools, to achieve its ideal density creating a resistant and durable structure. Rammed earth constructions are not a novelty, on the contrary, some sections of the Great Wall of China were made using this technique. Relegated and replaced by modern methods of construction, the mud walls are currently re-emerging as an economic, sustainable solution, with low environmental impact. In addition to its low cost, another benefit of building with earth is that it can cool interior spaces, decreasing the use of air conditioning systems. Its maintenance is also low and there is no need to paint the walls. The walls are sound and termite-proof, as well as free of chemicals and toxins that may be present in cement.

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

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One of the Greatest Wildlife Experiences can be Found in Africa

Chimpanzees may get much less hype in the travel media than endangered mountain gorillas, but tracking our closest relative through the African jungle is in fact one of the world’s most thrilling wildlife encounters. Although there are around 300,000 chimpanzees left in the equatorial forests of Africa, observing them in their natural habitat is a rare treat. One of the best places to do so is Kibale Forest National Park in Uganda as it’s home to five habituated groups that are within easy walking distance .The gorillas may be Uganda’s star attraction, but coming face-to-face with a wild chimpanzee is every bit as breathlessly exhilarating. In fact, this experience is arguably better, because the terrain is much easier, the forest less dense, the chimpanzees easier to find, and the price significantly cheaper. All good reasons why you might want to consider putting chimps right at the top of your must-see list.

SOURCES: LONELY PLANET

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Where to Stay in Marrakesh

Marrakesh’s hotel scene is constantly changing – helped by more than 1,000 riad hotels squeezed in among the narrow alleyways and souks of the Medina neighbourhood. These mini-Edens – all with a central courtyard garden (where the word “riad” comes from) – have been mushrooming in the Medina, veering between simplicity and no-holds-barred luxury. Then there’s the Ville Nouvelle and the lush palm groves of La Palmeraie north of the city, if you’re looking for something a bit further away from the action.

SOURCES: THE INDEPENDENT

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Join the Hashtag Crowd with a Trip to Cape Town

The Mother City is famous for its natural beauty. Mountain ranges that form spectacular skylines, unique endemic fynbos, boulder-lined, sandy beaches, winelands that boast striking views: Cape Town has it all. No person with any form of camera hasn’t spent time capturing its lovely scenery, whether to appreciate it again and again or to show it off to friends. Hoppa, a travel comparison company, has recently voted Cape Town as one of the world’s most Instagrammable cities. The rank of a city was determined by number of times its hashtag was used on social media between March 2018 and March 2019. The Cape Town hashtag has been used close to 10 million times. The list consisted of 50 global cities, where each was also rated for what it was most popular for. The categories included selfies, scenery, sexually suggestive content, food, and couples.

SOURCES: GETAWAY

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Africa’s 25 Most Liveable Cities

Many cities on the continent offer attractive environments in which to do business, and the quality of living is an essential component of a city’s attractiveness. The appeal of cities as a place to live and work is a key aspect of attracting talent as well as global and local businesses. In Africa, Port Louis is the city with the best quality of living and also the safest. It was closely followed for overall quality of living by the South African cities of Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, though these cities still rank low for personal safety, and issues around water scarcity contributed to Cape Town. Gambia’s progress toward a democratic political system and improved international relations and human rights meant that Banjul had the most improved quality of living in Africa, but also in the world, rising six places this year. Victoria, the capital city of the Republic of Seychelles also features in Africa.com’s list alongside Tunis, Rabat, Dakar, Accra and Lusaka.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Top Destinations for South African Travellers

London saw a spectacular year-on-year growth of 47%, while Lagos and Mauritius reported year-on-year increases in numbers of respectively 35% and 34%. In fourth and fifth place are Harare and Dubai: traffic to Harare from South Africa increased by 24% and flights to Dubai were up 17%. With more and more South African companies seeking to exploit opportunities north of our borders, it is not surprising to see Lagos place as the second fastest growing business destination for South African travellers. The fact that Mauritius with its attractive tax regime and stable economy is the third fastest growing business destination comes hardly as a surprise. The country ranked as the highest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa on the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Index and the country’s banks have become beacons of growth and stability in sub-Saharan Africa.

SOURCES: IOL

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South African Firms Dominate Africa’s Top 250 Companies by Market Capitalisation

Business in Africa is changing, highlighted by new companies in entertainment, health, construction and food entering the top continent’s top business ranking. Although mining, financial services and telecoms still take most of the top spots in Africa’s Top 250 Companies 2019, measured by value, Africa’s biggest company is a forward-facing global media giant, Naspers which just announced plans to spin off some holdings this year and create Europe’s largest listed consumer Internet company.  Another trend is that companies in several of the fast-growing African economies are eating into the number of South African firms in the top ranking, which although they are still dominant make up a little under half the companies featured. Biggest gains go to Egyptian companies whose number in the top 250 ranking rises to 39, from 34 last year. Zimbabwe has nine companies, up from five last year, and Kenya added two to total 14 companies. A Mozambican brewery and a Malawian telco also joined the ranking. Ranking in the Top 250 Companies report is according to the value of shares listed on a stock exchange (“market capitalisation”), expressed in US dollars at 31 March 2019, although many exchanges closed trading on Friday 29 March.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Africa’s 25 Most Liveable Cities

Many cities on the continent offer attractive environments in which to do business, and the quality of living is an essential component of a city’s attractiveness. The appeal of cities as a place to live and work is a key aspect of attracting talent as well as global and local businesses. In Africa, Port Louis is the city with the best quality of living and also the safest. It was closely followed for overall quality of living by the South African cities of Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, though these cities still rank low for personal safety, and issues around water scarcity contributed to Cape Town. Gambia’s progress toward a democratic political system and improved international relations and human rights meant that Banjul had the most improved quality of living in Africa, but also in the world, rising six places this year. Victoria, the capital city of the Republic of Seychelles also features in Africa.com’s list alongside Tunis, Rabat, Dakar, Accra and Lusaka.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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The Biggest Obstacle to Business for SME’s in African Countries

Entrepreneurs have a pivotal role to play in Africa’s unemployment crisis. Today over a third of the continent’s young workforce (those aged 15-35) are unemployed. Another third are in vulnerable employment. By 2035, Africa will contribute more people to the workforce each year than the rest of the world combined. By 2050 it will be home to 1.25 billion people working aged. To absorb these new entrants, Africa needs to create over 18 million new jobs each year. But access to financing remains an obstacle, young entrepreneurs often face double digit interest rates from local banks. And venture capital penetration is still extremely low. Top end 2018 estimates put it at about $725 million for the whole continent. To tackle the problem, African countries continue to start new entrepreneurship funds. In July 2017 Ghana launched the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan. The aim is to provide integrated national support for start-ups and small businesses. Almost a year later, Rwanda secured a $30 million loan from the African Development Bank for the establishment of the Rwandan Innovation Fund. This will focus on investments in tech-enabled SMEs.

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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MTN Lists in Nigeria

MTN Nigeria has signed a $653 million loan with seven local banks, a day after it floated its shares on the Lagos stock market. The seven-year loan deal coordinated by Citibank was signed with a consortium of Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank , FCMB, United Bank for Africa and First Bank. MTN Nigeria, majority owned by South Africa‘s MTN Group , floated its shares in a $6.5 billion listing on Thursday turning into the second-largest company on the exchange after Dangote Cement. The Lagos-listed shares gained a further 10% on Friday, its second day of trading. The shares, which listed at 90 naira, closed 10% higher at 99 naira on Thursday. The MTN unit has 52.3 million users in Nigeria in 2017 and accounts for a third of the Johannesburg-based parent’s profit. However, it has had fraught relations with the Nigerian authorities, including rows over SIM cards and tax payments. It listing follows MTN Group’s agreement with Nigerian regulators to settle most of those disputes.

SOURCES: MONEYWEB

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Creating a Cashless Africa

Across Africa, there has historically been a heavy reliance on cash, with around 95 percent of retail transactions taking place in cash. Global and local organisations are investing in innovative digital payment systems and new disruptive payments tools to displace cash, while delivering new levels of inclusion to the benefit of consumers, businesses and governments. One of the leading technology companies in this realm is Mastercard. From a consumer perspective, cash is inconvenient, dangerous to carry and expensive. This remains true across several other African countries where people often have to trade off the demands of an hourly job with the need to travel long distances to access cash or stand in line to pay a bill. Many people also face the danger of being robbed when they come home with their wages.​ Cash also has several negative implications for merchants and small businesses. Not only does it cost these businesses to access, secure, transport and store cash, but it can also hamper business growth if they do not accept electronic payments. For example, entrepreneurs cannot access the credit or loans they need to grow their businesses without a financial record or credit history. They can also lose out on revenue when their customers don’t have enough cash to pay for goods.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Goldman Sachs Group Banks on Cyril Ramaphosa

The US investment bank seeks to tap into fast economic growth on the continent. The lender is partnering with Investec on equity trading, which will allow both firms to extend their trading operations from Johannesburg to the rest of Africa. Goldman Sachs, which has had a presence in South Africa for 20 years, will also offer fixed-income products, including foreign exchange and South African government securities, to corporate and institutional investors in the country. The firm already provides advisory, wealth- and asset management services to corporations, investment firms, government institutions and individuals in South Africa. The expansion comes after South African elections in which President Cyril Ramaphosa led his African National Congress to victory on pledges to reignite economic growth, streamline his cabinet and stamp out corruption. Colin Coleman, who has headed the sub-Saharan African division of Goldman Sachs since 2000, is a supporter of Ramaphosa and his drive to attract more investments into Africa’s most industrialized economy.

SOURCES: DAILY MAVERICK

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The African Union’s Plan on Creating a Close-knit Relationship amongst Members

In 2013, the AU designed Agenda 2063, a framework with set objectives to aid the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The vision is to maintain integration of Africans on the continent. One of the ways the union is doing this is through the proposed launch of a continental passport known as the AU passport. The passport will grant visa-free access to every member state so Africans can move freely across the continent. Presently, only Seychelles and the Republic of Benin have no visa restrictions for Africa travellers. The AU passport is not yet available to the public but is exclusive to heads of state, top diplomats and persons of interest in Africa. But easy travel within the continent is not the passport’s only objective, it is also about opening up borders for economic growth and Intra-Africa trade. There’s a substantial amount of evidence to show that free movement boosts the economies of countries. Residents of other countries are able to contribute skills for human capital development and to the labor market of the receiving countries. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), one of the AU’s frameworks to keep the continent integrated, is an agreement allowing free access to markets and market information in Africa. In 2018, leaders of 44 African countries met in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city and endorsed the AfCFTA. Since then 52 countries, including South Africa, have joined in. The agreement creates a single market that removes trade barriers says Hafsatu Lawal Garba, one of the researchers who worked on the AfCFTA. By removing barriers, it will allow Africa owned companies and businessmen to expand and enter new markets. This, in turn, widens their customer base, leading to new products and services.

SOURCES: CNN

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Setting Up an African Development Centre

American technology giant Microsoft Corporation has unveiled plans to set up an African technology development centre in Kenya. The technology centre will be Microsoft’s 7th globally and will not only be the corporation’s gateway to the region, but will carry huge potential for jobs and business opportunities for tech-savvy Kenyan youth in the various ICT specializations. The new development sites carry great potential for talent development and technology transfer among Africa’s youth especially in countries with good ICT literacy ratings such as Kenya, adding that the corporation would be hiring 100 local engineers as a start. According to Microsoft, the Africa Development Centre will be a premier hub of engineering for the US technology company and its affiliates. The centre will leverage the diversity of the regional landscape to build world-class talent capable of creating innovative solutions for global impact. Further, the centre is expected to establish a collaborative engineering springboard for new technology investments in Kenya.

SOURCES: CGTN AFRICA

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Getting Around Africa’s Mapping Issues

The growth of e-commerce in Africa is plagued by an array of issues that include fraud and delivery difficulties. Addressya is a platform that seeks to solve this by providing access to a precise and easy address system. All you need is your smartphone, download the app and simply create your profile. With Addressya users can share their address with friends, businesses and customers whenever they like, and for as long as they like with full control over their personal data. The app can also be used to locate customers for smooth deliveries.

SOURCES: CNBC AFRICA

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Plans for Egypt’s New Capital Hit a Snag

Egypt’s government wants to start running the nation from a new capital in the desert from mid-2020, but the $58 billion project is struggling to raise funds and needs to overcome other challenges after investors pulled out. Workers are rushing to build core areas of the new city to replace Cairo, the existing capital on the Nile that has become a traffic-clogged, urban sprawl of more than 20 million people. The project, launched in 2015 by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a year after he was first elected president, aims to offer a clean and efficient base for the government and finance industry, as well as homes for at least 6.5 million people. But the project, which also seeks to lift an economy dented by political turmoil after 2011, lost a lead investor from the United Arab Emirates and is now being run by the Housing Ministry and the army’s Engineering Authority. Officials say “the large scale of the work leads to large scale problems”, such as finding enough skilled labor to wire up the “smart city” and raising about 58 billion in financing over coming years from land sales and other investment. A promotional video depicts a green city, running on cashless systems for transport and other services, that contrasts with Cairo, much of whose elegant 19th and early 20th century architectural heart has fallen into disrepair. The new city, known for now as the New Administrative Capital, is eventually expected to cover about 700 square km. The first phase, covering about 168 square km, will have ministries, residential neighborhoods, a diplomatic quarter and a financial district. A large mosque and cathedral, as well a hotel and conference center, have already been built.

SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA

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The First Black African Woman to Reach the Summit of Mount Everest

On the way to the top of Mount Everest, there is garlic and mushroom soup with popcorn for starters, daily lectures on altitude sickness, and wipes instead of showers. That is what Saray Khumalo, a Zambia-born Johannesburg resident, shared on social media in the build-up to finally summiting the highest peak in the world, with an elevation of 8,848m, on Thursday morning. According the data which Khumalo is sharing live, she has travelled 8.3km since she started heading to the highest point in the world on May 14, at an average speed of just 170m an hour (0.17km/h). It was fourth time lucky for Khumalo, whose previous attempts were thwarted by weather. She abandoned her 2014 attempt after an avalanche killed 16 sherpas. Her 2015 attempt was cut short after a devastating earthquake in Nepal. She reached the mountain’s South Summit in 2017, but strong winds and frostbite scuppered her climb.

SOURCES: TIMES LIVE

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Bird Species thought to be Extinct Rises from the Ashes

Scientists say a previously extinct species of bird returned from the dead, reclaiming the island it previously lived on and re-evolving itself back into existence. The white-throated rail colonized the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean and evolved to become flightless, before being completely wiped out when the island disappeared below the sea around 136,000 years ago. But researchers found similar fossils from before and after that event, showing that the chicken-sized bird re-appeared when sea levels fell again a few thousand years later, re-colonized the island and again lost the ability to fly. The parent species of the rail, indigenous to Madagascar, would frequently see its population explode; forcing the birds to migrate in great numbers from the island off the coast of East Africa. Many of those that flew north or south drowned in the Indian Ocean, and those that went west landed in Africa, where they were eaten by predators. But the lucky few who went east ended up on islands including Mauritius, Réunion and Aldabra, the latter of which was studied by the researchers. Unlike the dodo, which became extinct in the 17th century, the white-throated rail was resurrected to tell the tale once the island re-emerged and birds started migrating to the destination again. That means one species of bird from Madagascar gave rise to two separate species of flightless rail on Aldabra in the space of just a few thousand years.

SOURCES: CNN

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Africa’s 25 Most Liveable Cities

Many cities on the continent offer attractive environments in which to do business, and the quality of living is an essential component of a city’s attractiveness. The appeal of cities as a place to live and work is a key aspect of attracting talent as well as global and local businesses. In Africa, Port Louis is the city with the best quality of living and also the safest. It was closely followed for overall quality of living by the South African cities of Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, though these cities still rank low for personal safety, and issues around water scarcity contributed to Cape Town. Gambia’s progress toward a democratic political system and improved international relations and human rights meant that Banjul had the most improved quality of living in Africa, but also in the world, rising six places this year. Victoria, the capital city of the Republic of Seychelles also features in Africa.com’s list alongside Tunis, Rabat, Dakar, Accra and Lusaka.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Is Burundi Playing Dirty?

The Supreme Court has ordered the seizure of assets belonging to opposition activists in exile. The ruling applies to 32 politicians, rights campaigners and journalists living abroad, and also to nine military officers jailed in Burundi over a 2015 coup attempt, according to a statement by the prosecutor general and Supreme Court president. One of the opposition politicians in exile named in the ruling said it made a mockery of Burundi’s judicial system. Prosecutor General Sylvestre Nyandwi said he had informed the registrar of land titles that buildings belonging to people on the list must be seized. In power since 2005, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term in 2015 was denounced as illegal by the opposition, triggering protests and a failed uprising. Nearly half a million people have fled since his reelection. In March, Burundi forced the United Nations to shut its local rights office after 23 years, declaring it had made sufficient progress so the bureau was no longer justified. The U.N. and international rights groups say there are credible reports of violations in Burundi and that political freedoms have shrunk dramatically since 2015. The government denies this and has accused former colonial power Belgium, the European Union and neighboring Rwanda of trying to destabilize Burundi.

SOURCES: CGTN AFRICA

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Egyptian Filmmaker to Document Christchurch Attack

A film about the Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people died, is to be directed by Egyptian film-maker and academic Moez Masoud. According to Variety the film’s title will be Hello, Brother, the words spoken by 71-year-old victim Hati Mohammed Daoud Nabi, who opened the door to the gunman of Al Noor mosque, where 42 people died. The central characters are “a family facing death and destruction in Afghanistan who escape with their lives”. Masoud announced the film at the Cannes, where producing company Acamedia is looking for backers. Masoud said: “In Christchurch, on 15 March, the world witnessed an unspeakable crime against humanity. The story that Hello, Brother will bring to audiences is just one step in the healing process, so that we might all better understand each other, and the root causes of hatred, racism, supremacy and terrorism.” Outside film-making, Masoud is a prolific writer and activist, currently at No 31 in the Muslim 5oo list of influential people. He added that he wanted to “bring people all over the world together to discuss that day and continue a positive dialogue for a future based on genuine mutual understanding”.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Saving the African Rhino

The survival of the rhino is under threat. That is according to the World Wildlife Fund, which says that more than 8,000 rhinos have been poached for their horns since 2010. They are killed to meet the high demand for horns in Asia, but in South Africa staff at a wildlife reserve say they have found a way to try and save the species. Rhino Rescue Project has infused 700 horns with toxins and has since lost only 2 rhinos to poachers. To deter poachers from the horns, a medicinal compound called ectoparasiticides is injected into the rhino’s horns, which  is safe for the animals except for some minor risks associated with immobilization,the formula can be compared to what pet owners use to combat ticks and fleas.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA

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Giving Zimbabwe Farmers the Legal Right to their Land

Most white commercial farmers were pushed off their land in the early 2000s by the government and replaced by black farmers.  Those new farmers have no guarantee they will be allowed to stay, and no collateral to use to borrow money from banks. Without those, the Commercial Farmers Union argues that farms cannot be productive. Even blacks who benefited from the land reforms say unless the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe addresses chronic shortages of cash and finds a way to preserve the value of the local currency, the bondnote, the southern African country’s economy will not recover.

SOURCES: VOA

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Getting Around Africa’s Mapping Issues

The growth of e-commerce in Africa is plagued by an array of issues that include fraud and delivery difficulties. Addressya is a platform that seeks to solve this by providing access to a precise and easy address system. All you need is your smartphone, download the app and simply create your profile. With Addressya users can share their address with friends, businesses and customers whenever they like, and for as long as they like with full control over their personal data. The app can also be used to locate customers for smooth deliveries.

SOURCES: CNBC AFRICA

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No Safe Ground for Burkinabes

Deadly attacks on Christians in a “safe haven” for thousands fleeing violence in Burkina Faso mark a new phase of crisis, the United Nations said on Thursday. About 16 people died in three attacks on churches and a religious procession in the last two weeks, threatening to upend traditionally peaceful relations between the Muslim majority and Christians, who make up a quarter of Burkinabes. Centre-Nord hosts about one-third of 170,000 people who have fled their homes, most driven southwards by rising violence in the country’s northern Sahel region, the militants’ stronghold. Burkina Faso has been beset by a rise in attacks this year as groups with links to Islamic State and al Qaeda based in neighboring Mali seek to extend their influence over the porous borders of the Sahel, the arid scrubland south of the Sahara.

SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA

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Formula 1 is in Talks to Hold a Race in Morocco

If the event comes off, it would be the first F1 race held in Africa since the 1993 South African Grand Prix. “We race on five continents and the last habitable continent that we don’t race in is Africa,” commercial boss Sean Bratches said. “We have proactively been approached by Morocco and Marrakech to take a grand prix there. There is a high degree of interest.” Bratches said it was “really important” for F1’s owner Liberty Media to have a race in Africa and that they were also looking at a race in South Africa “in the short term”. The all-electric Formula E championship already holds an event in Morocco – a street race in Marrakech. Formula E already hosts races in Marrakech, Morocco. The last grand prix to be staged in Morocco was in 1958, when Stirling Moss won in Casablanca.

SOURCES: BBC

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A Drop-off in the Number of Non-immigrant Visas Issued to Nigerians

The United States embassy has announced an immediate indefinite suspension of interview waivers for visa renewals for applicants in Nigeria. Known as “drop-box,” the interview waiver process allowed Nigerian applicants who met certain eligibility criteria to renew their visas by submitting their passports and supporting documents for review without going through a new in-person interview each time. With the new waiver suspension, all applicants—first time and recurring—will now be required to appear for in-person interviews at US embassies in Nigeria. The suspension also comes one month after news that Trump administration has been considering new immigration measures to impose visa restrictions on countries whose citizens have a track record of overstaying beyond the validity of their short-term US visas. Nigeria accounted for the third highest number of US visa overstays last year. The proposed measures included reducing visa validity periods, making it tougher for citizens from countries like Nigeria to receive visas at all and the long-term possibility of outright bans.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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African Countries Leaning towards Anti-NGO Measures

In a dozen countries across Africa, governments have enacted laws or policies that “improperly constrain” nongovernmental organizations and imperil civil society, the democracy watchdog Freedom House says in a new report. “Freedoms Under Threat: The Spread of Anti-NGO Measures in Africa” looks at efforts since 2004 to restrict civil society, especially groups working on human rights and governance issues. Curbs on NGOs have “a serious impact on the capacity of organized civil society, and citizens, to hold governments to account and to protect human rights,” said Godfrey M. Musila, author of the report. . He added that governmental limits “are of course accompanied by other measures to restrict other kinds of freedoms” and to bolster control by the state or strongmen. Measures such as complicating registration or limiting foreign workers and financial aid have been implemented in a dozen countries: Algeria, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. ​The report says anti-NGO measures are pending or possible in Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan and Zambia.

SOURCES: VOA

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Sudan’s Way Forward

Sudan’s military leaders have announced an agreement with the opposition alliance for a three-year transition period to a civilian administration. The Transitional Military Council (TMC) said the alliance would have two-thirds of the seats on a legislative council. However, the two sides are yet to agree on a sovereign council – the top tier of power, where both want a majority. At a joint news conference, Lt Gen Yasser al-Atta said a final agreement on power sharing would be signed with the opposition alliance – the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) – within 24 hours. That would include the forming of a sovereign council which will rule the country until elections. “We vow to our people that the agreement will be completed fully within 24 hours in a way that meets the people’s aspirations,” he said. Gen Atta said the DFCF would have two-thirds of the seats on a 300-member transitional legislative council, while the rest would be taken by parties not members of the alliance. The agreement for a three-year transitional administration including a parliament dominated by opposition groups is a major step towards civilian rule. A cabinet will also be appointed by the opposition Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces. But the question of who will be ultimately in charge remains unanswered.

SOURCES: BBC

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Goldman Sachs Group is Expanding in South Africa

The US investment bank seeks to tap into fast economic growth on the continent. The lender is partnering with Investec on equity trading, which will allow both firms to extend their trading operations from Johannesburg to the rest of Africa. Goldman Sachs, which has had a presence in South Africa for 20 years, will also offer fixed-income products, including foreign exchange and South African government securities, to corporate and institutional investors in the country. The firm already provides advisory, wealth- and asset management services to corporations, investment firms, government institutions and individuals in South Africa. The expansion comes after South African elections in which President Cyril Ramaphosa led his African National Congress to victory on pledges to reignite economic growth, streamline his cabinet and stamp out corruption. Colin Coleman, who has headed the sub-Saharan African division of Goldman Sachs since 2000, is a supporter of Ramaphosa and his drive to attract more investments into Africa’s most industrialized economy.

SOURCES: BUSINESSTECH | IOL

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Emboldened Female African Designers Call for a Fashion Overhaul

Africa has become a hub for designers unafraid to create fashion statements embellished in colors as bold as the continent’s sunsets and in prints as culturally rich as its people. Their designs are cat-walking across runways both at home and around the world from New York to London to Tokyo. Despite its budding international fame, the African fashion industry has long ways to walk before “made in Lagos” rings the same as “made in Paris.” For the meantime, the paucity of internal and external investment is a barrier frustrating attempts to move forward. In recent times, African fashion has not just dipped its toes but fully plunged into the world’s fashion scene. Anisa Mpungew, a Tanzanian designer and creator of Loin Cloth & Ashes, says “Africa is not afraid of patterns and colors, that’s the one thing we do in our sleep, so we use it to be louder amongst our foreign friends.” According to the African Development Bank, the Rwandan government established a “foundation to establish garment factories and boost the textile and fashion industries.” As governments across the continent follow Rwanda’s steps and begin to esteem the fashion industry, they need to invest in the skills and qualifications of their people. Fashion programs such as LISOF School of Fashion in South Africa and Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design in Ghana need to be in abundant supply, not scarce, across Africa. Furthermore, governments across the African continent should set quotas on the import of second-hand clothing from the West.

SOURCES: SHE LEADS AFRICA

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The Best Books about Sudan Available in English

Most Sudanese literature is in Arabic and so, to many readers, the country remains an enigma. The volume and quality of translators has increased in recent years but their rarity still poses an immense challenge to reach an international audience. Aside from the odd writer working in a European language, much of what is available is written by people passing through; academics, adventurers, diplomats, and aid workers. Altogether, it adds up to a collage that is incomplete and warped.  A new generation of writers has since grown up in the shadow of repression. Despite these difficulties writers have continued to work and publish, both within the country and abroad. In a climate where newspapers are regularly censored, journalists detained and print runs seized, books have remained cherished items to be passed around with reverence.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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Zambia Arrests Minister Who Cost the Country UK Aid

Emerine Kabanshi was arrested “for abuse of authority of office”, according to a statement from Zambian anti-corruption and anti-money laundering agencies. Kabanshi was community development and social services minister when Britain alleged corruption in the disbursement of social grants. She was released on bail and will appear in court at a date yet to be fixed. Britain froze aid payments to Zambia last September, highlighting concerns of alleged fraud and corruption by the government of President Edgar Lungu. Britain’s development ministry said it earmarked $63.1m in aid for Zambia in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, but did not indicate how much was withheld over graft.

SOURCES: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

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Is Angola’s Former First Family Under Threat?

One of the daughters of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos says she “fled” her country after being threatened by the Angolan secret service. In a message to Angolan journalists, Welwitschia dos Santos said she left Angola for the UK after a former minister of dos Santos was, according to her, “kidnapped”. Welwitschia dos Santos, an MPLA MP, is in the UK, as is Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of the former president. But unlike her half-sister, she continues to criticize the current president Joao Lourenço, whose resignation she is demanding.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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Netflix’s Bad Swahili Subtitles Leave Viewers Shook

Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service, has just introduced Swahili subtitles to its TV and film services in Kenya. But just a few days later, it’s evident that the translators at Netflix have a very poor grasp of Swahili. The streaming service has come under fire in Kenya for botching Swahili subtitles on its TV and film services. In an article, Nairobi News says the subtitles indicate “the translators at Netflix have a very poor grasp of Swahili”, the most common language spoken in East Africa. Netflix has more than 148 million paid memberships in more than 190 countries, enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can also play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

SOURCES: NAIROBI NEWS

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Saving Gabon’s Unique Wildlife

Government has vowed to find and punish those responsible for the disappearance of more than 350 containers of protected hardwood worth nearly $250m. In late February and early March, the authorities uncovered and seized 392 containers with 5,000 cubic metres of illegally felled kevazingo wood in the port of Owendo. By the end of April, 353 of those containers had disappeared. Forestry is a major industry for the central African country, almost 80 percent of which is carpeted in rainforest. But the rare kevazingo tree, which can take 500 years to grow to its full height of 40m (130 feet), is protected by law. Demand in Asia for kevazingo remains high despite the ban in Gabon. The kevazingo in the stolen containers would have a market value of at least $241m.

SOURCES: AL JAZEERA | REUTERS AFRICA

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The Biggest Obstacle to Business for SME’s in African Countries

Entrepreneurs have a pivotal role to play in Africa’s unemployment crisis. Today over a third of the continent’s young workforce (those aged 15-35) are unemployed. Another third are in vulnerable employment. By 2035, Africa will contribute more people to the workforce each year than the rest of the world combined. By 2050 it will be home to 1.25 billion people working aged. To absorb these new entrants, Africa needs to create over 18 million new jobs each year. But access to financing remains an obstacle, young entrepreneurs often face double digit interest rates from local banks. And venture capital penetration is still extremely low. Top end 2018 estimates put it at about $725 million for the whole continent. To tackle the problem, African countries continue to start new entrepreneurship funds. In July 2017 Ghana launched the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan. The aim is to provide integrated national support for start-ups and small businesses. Almost a year later, Rwanda secured a $30 million loan from the African Development Bank for the establishment of the Rwandan Innovation Fund. This will focus on investments in tech-enabled SMEs.

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

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Bloodshed Taints Sudan’s Peaceful Protest of Military Rule

Four Sudanese protesters and an army major were shot dead Monday in the capital, hours after protest leaders and the ruling generals reached a breakthrough agreement on transitional authorities to run the country. The latest developments came as the prosecutor general’s office said ousted president Omar al-Bashir had been charged over the killings of protesters during anti-regime demonstrations that led to the end of his rule last month. The major and a protester were killed at a sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum where thousands of protesters remain camped for weeks, demanding that the army generals who took power after ousting Bashir step down. Three soldiers and several protesters and civilians were also wounded when “unidentified elements” fired shots at the Khartoum sit-in, the ruling military council said. The committee later said three more protesters had been shot dead, but did not specify if they were actually killed at the sit-in.

SOURCES: VOA

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The Journey of Creating One of South Africa’s Patriotic Symbols

In 1994, Frederick Brownell delivered on what may be the hardest and most consequential assignment any designer could receive: Design a flag to unite a nation—and do it in a week. “It scared the living daylights out of me,” he said to the BBC in 2014. Brownell, who passed away at age 79, was the head of the South Africa Department of Arts and Culture’s Bureau of Heraldry during a time when the country was in the midst of abolishing apartheid. He was tasked with the assignment after a drawn-out design contest that yielded 7,000 entries went nowhere. With barely two months before the inauguration of its newly elected president Nelson Mandela, South Africa needed a new unifying graphic symbol—fast. As Brownell outlines in his 2015 PhD dissertation, the the six-color, Y-shaped design first came to him while attending the Féderation Internationale de Associations Vexillologiques (FIAV) conference in Zurich in 1993. Like many brilliant back-of-the-napkin ideas, Brownell had actually been stewing over a new flag design for several years. He sensed that South Africa may need a unifying symbol after Mandela was released from prison in 1990.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Time Runs Out for Liberians Living in the US

A form of immigration status known as Deferred Enforced Departure which had protected Liberian migrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally – was due to expire in March, meaning they would have had to leave the country voluntarily or be deported. It was all part of the effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to widen its crackdown on legal and illegal immigration to the United States. Days before the March deadline, Trump granted Liberians a reprieve to last through March 30, 2020. Though relieved, community members recognized that the clock was simply reset for the thousands of Liberians who fled civil war and instability in their home country in the 1990s and early 2000s.

SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA

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Somalia’s Shutdown of the Internet isn’t for Repressive Reasons

The country has postponed national high school exams after discovering that papers were being sold and shared on social media. Any exams that have already been taken have been invalidated, Education Minister Abdullahi Godah Barre said during a broadcast on national TV. The cancellation has sparked student protests in the capital, Mogadishu. The exams will now take place over five days at the end of May and social media will be shut down to avoid leaks. It is unclear how the blockade would be implemented and if will be for the whole country. Mr Barre also did not say which social media platforms had been used to post the papers in the first place. Over 31,000 students, across five of Somalia’s regional states, will be affected by the postponement. A video has been shared online of Mr Barre and the police boss trying calm down students who were protesting against the postponement. Students have been sitting their final year exams since Saturday and they were supposed to end on a week’s time, but Mr Barre said the postponement was necessary.

SOURCES: BBC

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Zimbabwe Sells Elephants to China and Dubai for $2.7m

Money from the sales will be used to support conservation efforts. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority says the agency was having difficulty controlling the population in its national parks, and that proceeds from the sales, made over a six-year period, will be used for the upkeep of its remaining elephants. “We are struggling with a ballooning number of elephants. We believe in sustainable utilization of our resources, and these elephants must pay for their upkeep,” Farawo told CNN. He said water levels were running low in rivers in its parks and officials have been using alternative water sources to feed the animals. The 98 elephants were airlifted to parks in China and Dubai and they were sold for prices ranging from $13,500 to $41, 500 each, the reports said. They were exported between 2012 and 2018, the Zimbabwe Chronicle reported.

SOURCES: CNN

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Beautifying the Ethiopian Capital

A fundraising effort aimed at beautifying the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has raked in over $25 million dollars from a section of the project supporters. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office disclosed on that the latest amount of funds had been raised from local and international support including from the Italian government which contributed 5,000,000 Euros. Two United Nations outfits gave a million dollars each whiles the African Development Bank, AfDB, gave 600,000 dollars. The largest tranche of over 17 million dollars were deposits at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. The development project will run along the two biggest rivers in Addis Ababa – stretching 23.8kms and 27.5kms respectively – all the way from the mountains of Entoto through to Akaki River. The funds paid towards the ‘Beautifying Sherger Project,’ will culminate in a dinner event ‘Dine for Sherger,’ slated for later this week. A seat at the event is valued at 5 million birr. Among others, donors get a plaque with their names along the project route and a photo opportunity with the PM.

SOURCES: AFRICA NEWS

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This is How South Africa’s Lawmakers will Look Like

South Africa’s sixth Parliament will sit in a week, after an intensely fought election. A record number of 14 parties will take up the 400 seats in the National Assembly. The previous high was 13 parties. With voters leaving the ANC and Democratic Alliance (DA), there is now space for new faces, to sit next to some faces that have been in Parliament for a long time. Newcomer parties that have made the cut to serve the country include former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s GOOD party and the African Transformation Movement with two seats each. Al Jama-ah — which according to its website is a Muslim party — secured one seat. The growth of these small parties, and of the FF+ and EFF, has meant fewer votes for other parties, and some parties not even making it to Parliament.

SOURCES: MAIL & GUARDIAN

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Evidence that African Players are Thriving in the Premier League

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has admitted his pride at sharing the Golden Boot with Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah. The Arsenal forward’s two goals against Burnley on the final day ensured he ended the season on 22, matching the tally of Senegal’s Mané and Egypt’s Salah, who also became the sixth player to win the award in successive seasons. It was the most prolific campaign for African players in England’s top-flight, surpassing the 2006/7 season when Chelsea’s Didier Drogba finished as the top scorer with 20 goals and Blackburn’s Benni McCarthy came second with 18. But while Aubameyang will not be in action in Egypt this summer along with Mané and Salah following Gabon’s failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, the 29-year-old believes their club achievements are “a good sign for the continent”.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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It’s No Surprise that the African National Congress Emerged Victorious

But the changing profile of its rivals shows that political landscape of Africa’s most advanced economy is beginning to transform radically, to the left and the right. Land is the center of both sides of the debate. Despite their victory, this is the ANC’s worst performance yet. At 57.5% of the national vote, the ANC continues a steady decline. Despite president Cyril Ramaphosa’s promises of a new dawn, the party couldn’t shake its darker recent past of corruption, slow economic growth and factional fighting. Ramaphosa’s focus on land redistribution and anti-corruption did not quite yield the results the party had hoped and it struggled to hold on to the economic hub, Gauteng. Its nearest rival, the Democratic Alliance, did not fare much better, earning 20,7% of the national vote, down from 22,23% in 2014. The liberal party maintained its stronghold in the Western Cape, but for the first time since 1994, failed to grow its support. The party’s first black president, Mmusi Maimane, may be out of a job soon, analysts said. Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters party looks set to become the official opposition by the next election, growing its share of the national vote from 6.35% in 2014 to 10,79%. With its leftist policies and the impatient slogan, “Our Land and Jobs, Now!” the EFF not only tapped into the frustration of disenfranchised youth, but peri-urban communities throughout the country.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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Seeking Justice from Cairo

The parents of Giulio Regeni, the Italian student murdered in Cairo three years ago, have written to the Egyptian president demanding he extradite five men to Italy to face trial. Paola and Claudio Regeni published their emotional plea in an open letter to Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. They condemned what they see as false promises by Egyptian authorities to investigate the murder of their son, and a cover-up. “As long as this barbarism remains unpunished, until all those who are guilty, regardless of their position, are brought to justice in Italy, no one in the world can stay in your country and feel safe,” the letter reads. Regeni’s mutilated body was found by the side of an outlying Cairo desert road in February 2016, bearing clear signs of torture, following his disappearance on 25 January that year. The 28-year-old’s mother, Paola, later stated she only recognised that the corpse belonged to her son by “the tip of his nose”.  Letters were carved into the side of Regeni’s body by one of his torturers and there was evidence that Regeni had been followed and investigated by the Egyptian security services prior to his death.

SOURCES: THE GUARDIAN

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The African Union’s Plan on Creating a Close-knit Relationship amongst Members

In 2013, the AU designed Agenda 2063, a framework with set objectives to aid the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. The vision is to maintain integration of Africans on the continent. One of the ways the union is doing this is through the proposed launch of a continental passport known as the AU passport. The passport will grant visa-free access to every member state so Africans can move freely across the continent. Presently, only Seychelles and the Republic of Benin have no visa restrictions for Africa travellers. The AU passport is not yet available to the public but is exclusive to heads of state, top diplomats and persons of interest in Africa. But easy travel within the continent is not the passport’s only objective, it is also about opening up borders for economic growth and Intra-Africa trade. There’s a substantial amount of evidence to show that free movement boosts the economies of countries. Residents of other countries are able to contribute skills for human capital development and to the labor market of the receiving countries. The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), one of the AU’s frameworks to keep the continent integrated, is an agreement allowing free access to markets and market information in Africa. In 2018, leaders of 44 African countries met in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city and endorsed the AfCFTA. Since then 52 countries, including South Africa, have joined in. The agreement creates a single market that removes trade barriers says Hafsatu Lawal Garba, one of the researchers who worked on the AfCFTA. By removing barriers, it will allow Africa owned companies and businessmen to expand and enter new markets. This, in turn, widens their customer base, leading to new products and services.

SOURCES: CNN

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Zimbabweans Dealt another Blow

The country’s state power utility imposed the worst rolling blackouts in three years on Monday, with households and industries including mines set to be without electricity for up to eight hours daily. The power cuts are bound to stoke mounting public anger against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government as Zimbabweans grapple with an economic crisis that has seen shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel, food and medicines as well as soaring inflation that is eroding earnings and savings. Many Zimbabweans say life is getting harder and that Mnangagwa is failing to deliver on pre-election promises last year to rebuild an economy shattered during Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule. The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), citing reduced output at its largest hydro plant and ageing coal-fired generators, said power cuts would start on Monday and last up to eight hours during morning and evening peak periods. The country last experienced such serious blackouts in 2016 following a devastating drought.

SOURCES: CNBC AFRICA

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Setting Up an African Development Centre

American technology giant Microsoft Corporation has unveiled plans to set up an African technology development centre in Kenya. The technology centre will be Microsoft’s 7th globally and will not only be the corporation’s gateway to the region, but will carry huge potential for jobs and business opportunities for tech-savvy Kenyan youth in the various ICT specializations. The new development sites carry great potential for talent development and technology transfer among Africa’s youth especially in countries with good ICT literacy ratings such as Kenya, adding that the corporation would be hiring 100 local engineers as a start. According to Microsoft, the Africa Development Centre will be a premier hub of engineering for the US technology company and its affiliates. The centre will leverage the diversity of the regional landscape to build world-class talent capable of creating innovative solutions for global impact. Further, the centre is expected to establish a collaborative engineering springboard for new technology investments in Kenya.

SOURCES: CGTN AFRICA

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Plans for Egypt’s New Capital Hit a Snag

Egypt’s government wants to start running the nation from a new capital in the desert from mid-2020, but the $58 billion project is struggling to raise funds and needs to overcome other challenges after investors pulled out. Workers are rushing to build core areas of the new city to replace Cairo, the existing capital on the Nile that has become a traffic-clogged, urban sprawl of more than 20 million people. The project, launched in 2015 by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a year after he was first elected president, aims to offer a clean and efficient base for the government and finance industry, as well as homes for at least 6.5 million people. But the project, which also seeks to lift an economy dented by political turmoil after 2011, lost a lead investor from the United Arab Emirates and is now being run by the Housing Ministry and the army’s Engineering Authority. Officials say “the large scale of the work leads to large scale problems”, such as finding enough skilled labor to wire up the “smart city” and raising about 58 billion in financing over coming years from land sales and other investment. A promotional video depicts a green city, running on cashless systems for transport and other services, that contrasts with Cairo, much of whose elegant 19th and early 20th century architectural heart has fallen into disrepair. The new city, known for now as the New Administrative Capital, is eventually expected to cover about 700 square km. The first phase, covering about 168 square km, will have ministries, residential neighborhoods, a diplomatic quarter and a financial district. A large mosque and cathedral, as well a hotel and conference center, have already been built.

SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA

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Terror Attacks Rock Burkina Faso

Gunmen killed at least six Christians in a Catholic church in the Burkinabe town of Dablo on Sunday. The worshippers were attending morning mass when at least 20 men surrounded them and shot six dead, according to a government statement. The attackers then torched the church and set fire to a shop and two vehicles, in the second attack on Christians in as many weeks in a nation increasingly overrun by jihadis. At the end of April, five Christians were killed in an attack on a Burkinabe Protestant church. The pastor was among those killed in the raid in the small town of Silgadji. Both Dablo and Silgadji are in the north of Burkina Faso, which has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadi groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

SOURCES: Deutsche Welle

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Keeping Congolese in Check about Ebola

As medical teams work to fight the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, local media organisations and activists are waging a second war against rumours that sow doubt about the disease and distrust of vaccines. Many locals are suspicious of medical workers and believe the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,000 people since last August, was orchestrated by politicians. Conspiracy theories are rampant on social media, with some users rejecting the existence of Ebola, and others claiming that it is a biological weapon created to decimate the population or that medical teams are more interested in making money than in containing the disease. The hostility has been underscored by violence toward medical workers in North Kivu province, in eastern Congo, where the outbreak has hit hardest. Treatment centers have been targeted, and a nurse and doctor were killed in recent months in attacks believed to have been carried out by local militias. Distrust of the disease was heightened after the North Kivu cities of Beni and Butembo were excluded from voting in the presidential election in December, with authorities citing the Ebola outbreak, said our Observer Sammy Mupfuni, a journalist who co-founded the fact-checking website Congo Check. The site recently began identifying and debunking rumours surrounding Ebola. Congo Check also aims to raise awareness of the disease by reminding locals that Ebola is spread by bodily fluids and that many people have been successfully treated at the medical centres, known as CTEs.

SOURCES: THE OBSERVERS

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Zimbabwean Scholar Named One of the Most Inspiring Women in the World

Meet Tererai Trent, a Zimbabwean scholar, who is one of ten women being honored with statues for their inspiring efforts to promote gender equality. She was nominated alongside media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, and the popstar Pink. The list includes conservationist Jane Goodall, activist Janet Mock, chemist Tracy Dyson, author Cheryl Strayed and Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas. All 10 women will have life-size bronze figures unveiled by StatuesforEquality in the United States on Women’s Equality Day on August 26. Trent, 54, was kept out of school for most of her childhood because of poverty and being a female but she taught herself how to read and write while living with her parents in rural Zimbabwe. She relocated to the US in 1998 after she was discovered by an American non-profit that visited her village. She has since achieved her dreams of getting a masters and a doctorate. The US-based academic faced domestic abuse in the pursuit of her dreams and continues to champion girls and women empowerment through education. Her inspirational story caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey who gave Trent $1.5 million donations to rebuild her elementary school in Zimbabwe in partnership with Save the Children in 2011.

SOURCES: CNN

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Ozwald Boateng’s Fashion Show at the Apollo Was an Exploration of Authentic Identity

The latest collection from British-Ghanaian fashion designer, Ozwald Boateng, was inspired by his African roots and the Harlem Renaissance and proved to be a celebration of authentic identity. When he announced he’d be staging a fashion show about “AI,” most people assumed he was talking about artificial intelligence. But to Boateng, who presented a collection at New York City’s legendary Apollo Theater, AI stood for “authentic identity.” And the show’s looks left no doubt about his commitment to that ideal. The looks took West African design touches and combined them with nods to the Harlem Renaissance. Fitting, as the Apollo is one of Harlem, and the country’s, most iconic showplaces for black culture. In addition to being a spectacle in its own right, the show is one of many events taking place all over Harlem and the rest of New York City between 2018 and 2020 to mark the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance. Models, who included a few famous faces like “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams and musician Jidenna, showed off natty three-piece suits made of kente cloth, brightly patterned silk headwraps and enormous wooden circle bracelets that resembled the lip plates traditionally worn by Mursi tribeswomen in Ethiopia.

SOURCES: OKAYAFRICA

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Ghana’s Buzzed-About Venice Biennale Pavilion is a Clear First Step in the Country’s Bid to Become a Global Art Destination

Ghana is making a splashy first foray into the Venice Biennale with a masterful pavilion designed by architect David Adjaye and artwork from a stellar roster of African artists. The Venice Art Biennale, the world’s most celebrated international art event, has a history that is inextricably bound up with colonialism. Although states such as China have in recent years begun to present prominent national pavilions, African countries have been thin on the ground. This year, however, that balance is subtly shifting: Ghana has burst on to the scene with an exhibition featuring artists based in the country and from its diaspora. The paintings, photographs, films, sculptures and installations are presented in a series of deftly curving spaces designed by the architect Sir David Adjaye, whose most celebrated work includes the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. He is also the architect of a planned interdenominational National Cathedral of Ghana. The first-ever Ghana pavilion officially opened on Wednesday in the presence of the country’s first lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo. The artists shown include Turner-prize-nominated painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and Nigeria-based, Ghana-born El Anatsui, who is exhibiting some of his glimmering sculptures made from reused bottle tops.

SOURCES: ARTNET

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5 African Luxury Interior Designers You Should Know

For the greatest in African interiors, look no further than these 5 stylemakers. Nigerian-German interior designer and home décor expert, Eva Sonaike, has a perfect stake in the growing global interest in African design, textiles and products. Taking the world by storm, her aim is to position the ‘African’ aesthetic in the global textiles and interior industry as part of luxury interior and lifestyle brands. Ethiopian, Brooklyn based designer, Hana Getachew started Bolé Road Textiles out of a desire to merge her love of Ethiopian handwoven fabrics with her career in interior design. Her affinity for vibrant colors and graphic patterns finally merged with her upbringing infused with traditional Ethiopian textiles, and Bolé Road Textiles was born. Most known for his interior collaborations with luxury knitwear designer, MaXhosa by Laduma in 2014, Mlondolozi Hempe is a creative in architecture that explores design by tapping into numerous avenues of spaces. He not only curates product and furniture design, but also spatial planning for exhibitions, design events and interiors.

SOURCES: ONCHEK

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Kordae Henry Imagines an Alternative African History and Future

In a debut short film, Kordae Henry uses science fiction, sound, dance and Afrofuturism to alter the historical and future narrative of the black experience. “I believe that vision is the only idea until we can begin to build futures that involve the mythic, black and the underrepresented in its horizons… I use this as a way to talk about bigger ideas of alienation, the spirits, automation, artificial intelligence, to really allow us to see black bodies in future spaces,” he says. These two things form the basis of his debut short film, Earth Mother, Sky Father: 2030. The film looks at the unethical exploitation of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mineral resources through the creation of a utopian future where colonialism, slavery and corruption do not exist. In this, the Congolese people of Henry’s fictitious world have chosen to protect their wealth from deep within the ground. The story unfolds further through his use of visuals, sound and dance. This film is a segue into the future work Henry wants to do. Combining science fiction, afro-futurism and the future of black cinema, he hopes to explore and fill historical gaps through film.

SOURCES: DESIGN INDABA

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An Afro-Roman Palace Set between Water and Desert

Crossing the wide expanse of Chobe waters from Botswana to Chobe Water Villas in Namibia, all one sees is the row of A-frame peaks, like the zigzagged scales on a crocodile’s tail. Organic textures, desert sand and seed-pods capturing the essence of Namibia’s simple beauty. Stylish, chic, elegant, arty and many other adjectives apply. The attention to detail is noteworthy, furnishings, fixtures reflect a fine eye for design with an enviable artistic flair. So too the architecture.

SOURCES: IOL

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Take a One-day Guided Hike along South Africa’s Longest Uninterrupted Beach

A new 16 Mile Beach Challenge, in which participants set off for a gruelling but beautiful endurance hike has been launched. The 16 Mile Beach Challenge incorporates parts of the West Coast National Park, which hosts some of the oldest archeological sites in our country and is internationally known for its extensive bird and plant species. Participants will experience and discover this area in a unique way – through the eyes of Honorary Field Rangers who have been working for many many years in the park on a volunteer basis and know the area like the back of their hand.” This short but captivating experience, which is only an hour away from Cape Town, is not only a wonderful personal challenge but also a great opportunity for a breakaway – to disconnect from stress, reconnect to the beauty of nature, and with yourself. 

SOURCES: GETAWAY

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Reasons why Ethiopia Needs to Move to the Top of Your Bucket List!

Salt Farms in Makale where farmers still lead their camels for 7 days to these ‘farms’ to breakdown and transport salt blocks all across Ethiopia in 40 degress Celsius weather. The Danakil Depression is so hard to put into words. The depression is in the northern part of the Afar Triangle or Afar Depression in Ethiopia, a geological depression that has resulted from the divergence of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa. Think multicolored sand and water. The best way to describe the Addis night scene  is beautiful people, amazing music and just an amazing vibe all around.

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

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Cable Car Set for Mount Kilimanjaro

Around 50,000 tourists climb Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro annually. A cable car could increase tourist numbers by 50 percent by providing access to the mountain for those unable to climb it. The country is conducting feasibility studies on possible routes at the moment as well as environmental impact assessments will be carried out. Authorities say the length of the route has not been finalised, with various options under consideration depending on cost and engineering issues.

SOURCES: REUTERS AFRICA

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Vegan Friendly Travel in Africa

Young entrepreneurs in South Africa have tapped into the trend and transformed veganism to create food that is meat-free and comforting. Sinenhlanhla Ndlela founded dairy-free ice cream business Yococo, which features traditional South African flavors like rooibos tea and granadilla. Chef Elisha Madzivadondo built a vegan following through hearty and satisfying plant-based burgers using homegrown ingredients. Similarly, many traditional Ethiopian dishes are vegan. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians observe 180 fasting days a year, and on those days they eat mostly vegan meals. Many traditional African meals are already vegan: yam and vegetables, Ghanaian beans and plantains, South African pap and chakalaka, and Kenyan chapati and vegetable stew. These everyday African meals contain no meat, dairy, or eggs.

SOURCES: QUARTZ AFRICA

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The Market is Closely Eyeing South Africa’s Election Results

The JSE has had a tough time on Thursday, with the all-share index down more than 1% on the first trading day following the national and provincial elections.  However, this is unrelated to the South African vote: trade tensions between the US and China have wreaked havoc in markets across the world. The real market barometer for elections is the rand – and that has remained steady following largely peaceful elections. Much has been made of the “mandate threshold” for ANC support in the election; most professional investors believe that if the ANC secures a strong enough level of support, it will become easier for President Cyril Ramaphosa to institute economic reforms, according to an Intellidex survey. The survey found that investors believe the magic level is 58%, so if the ANC gets more than that, it may trigger a rally in the rand, bonds, and shares. After 80% of the polling stations had tallied the results, the African National Congress stood at 56.99% of the vote, while the Economic Freedom Fighters had 10.1% and the Democratic Alliance 21.83%. Analysts say if the ANC and EFF together breach 66% of the total national vote, they could have a mandate to change the Constitution, which may inject some uncertainty in the market. Investors are also carefully eyeing what is happening in Gauteng, given its importance to economic activity, employment and the tax base.

SOURCES: BUSINESS INSIDER

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Signs that Africa’s Financial Markets are Starting to Grow

With Africa’s population expected to overtake China’s by 2025, the continent’s economic potential is undeniable. At a time of slowing global growth, the world is starting to take notice of Africa’s fast-growing population and markets, and the opportunities they hold. Between 2010 and 2016, more than 320 embassies were opened in Africa, while global investment is beginning to pour in. If Africa truly wants to become an economic powerhouse of the future, it needs to get serious about reforming its financial markets. A broad, all-inclusive financial market that makes it easy for investors will enable Africa to grow. Fortunately, we can see large strides towards progress. The recent ratification of the African Continental Free Trade agreement promises to create a single market with a combined GDP of US$2.5trn and access to 1.2bn people. everal countries have recently progressed in migrating to market-determined foreign exchange regimes, implementing local content policies, and creating more transparent and well-regulated capital markets, which have been supported by an improving tax environment. This is vital for drawing foreign investment, encouraging domestic participation in capital markets, and aiding the development of the local capital markets. Equally impressive is the increased financial inclusion through better design, implementation, and regulation of savings institutions. This has widened opportunities for people in these countries to access capital markets.  Progress has also been made through policies that have increased the size of assets held by local investors, creating opportunities to develop financial products and enhance market liquidity.

SOURCES: AFRICAN BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Ethiopians Pay Heavy Price for Industrialisation

Ethiopian garment factory workers are now, on average, the lowest paid in any major garment-producing company worldwide, a new report says. The report by the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights comes as Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, pursues a bold economic experiment by inviting the global garment industry to set up shop in its mushrooming industrial parks. “The government’s eagerness to attract foreign investment led it to promote the lowest base wage in any garment-producing country — now set at the equivalent of $26 a month,” according to the authors of the report, Paul M. Barrett and Dorothée Baumann-Pauly. In comparison, Chinese garment workers earn $340 a month, those in Kenya earn $207 and those in Bangladesh earn $95. Drawn by the newly built industrial parks and a range of financial incentives, manufacturers for some of the world’s best-known brands — among them H&M, Gap, and PVH — employ tens of thousands of Ethiopian workers in a sector the government predicts will one day have billions of dollars in sales. The new report is based on a visit earlier this year to the flagship Hawassa Industrial Park that opened in June 2017 in southern Ethiopia and currently employs 25,000 people. According to the report, most young Ethiopian workers are hardly able to get by to the end of the month and are not able to support family members.

SOURCES: WASHINGTON POST

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MTN’s Largest Market is also its Most Problematic

While it dominates market share and infrastructure, the South Africa-owned giant’s biggest battles are with the local authorities rather than other telecoms rivals. Over the past five years, MTN has faced potential fines of up to $15 billion in Nigeria for a range of alleged misdeeds. A permanent resolution is crucial as MTN looks to continue doing business in its most important market. Amid murmurs and a denial of shutting down its Nigerian unit, there’s ample sign of how costly these disputes can be for investors. After the tax debt claims by Nigerian authorities, MTN’s stock tanked and closed at a nearly 12-year low. MTN has long maintained that its legal tussles with Nigeria’s government will not dent its interest in its biggest market despite investor concerns. Indeed, the company has committed to launching a mobile money service this year in Nigeria. Regardless, the disputes have had an impact: MTN has already revised