Featured

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

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

Featured

Nigeria’s Gains in an Immunological War

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

Featured

UK Visa Issues Leave Bitter Taste with Africans

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

Featured

Placing Education Above Differences

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

SOURCE:  VOA

Featured

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

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

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

Featured

The Uphill Battle of Recovering From War

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

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

Featured

Is this a Historic Moment for Sudan’s Transition?

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

Featured

Clampdown on Sports Betting in Kenya

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

Featured

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

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

SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

Featured

Afrobeats and Gqom Featured in New Lion King Soundtrack

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

Featured

The Gang War Ravaging the Cape Flats

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

Bringing Zimbabwe to a Halt

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

Featured

Fears that Ebola Could Spread

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

SOURCE: WASHINGTON POST

Featured

Experience Art Made in Ghana

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

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

Featured

South Africa’s Lion Breeders Look East for New Markets

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

Featured

Death Threats Kick Off Day 2 of Zuma’s Appearance

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

Featured

Uganda Plans to Introduce New Regulations For Bean Farming

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

SOURCE:  BUSINESS DAY LIVE

Featured

Meet the ‘Snake Man of Lagos’

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

Featured

Spies and other Files as Zuma Appears at the Zondo Commission

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

Featured

Terror Attack Douses Somali Journo Who Spread Light

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

Featured

New Gateway for African Migrants to the Americas

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

Featured

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

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

SOURCE: VOA

Featured

Why Millennials In Africa Are Turning To Bitcoin

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

Featured

Navigating the Dating Scene in Nigeria

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

Featured

Art Revives Place Where Trains Go to Die

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

Featured

Keeping the Peace in Ethiopia

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

Featured

Road to Afcon Finals

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

SOURCE:  SUPERSPORT | IOL

Featured

Nets and Losses for Africa’s Netball Teams

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

Featured

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

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

SOURCES: AFRICA BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Featured

Growing Tech Incubators in Africa

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

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

Featured

Why Intra-Trade in Africa is Such a Big Deal

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

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

Featured

Top 10 Countries To Invest In Africa

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

SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

Featured

Harare Considers Pulling the Plug on the Kariba South Plant

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

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

Featured

The Northern Cape is the Future of South African Mining

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

SOURCE: OZY

Featured

Looking into Facebook’s New Product in Africa

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

SOURCE: BBC

Featured

Boosting the National Energy Mix in Morocco

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

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

Featured

Uber Wants to Expand its Services to Senegal’s Capital

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

SOURCE: VOA

Featured

The French Connection in the Libyan Crisis

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

Featured

Shining the Light on Abuse in Cairo’s Torah Prison

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

Featured

The Namibians Asking What’s in the Meat?

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

Mauritius’ Role In Driving Quality Investments Into Africa

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

Boosting the National Energy Mix in Morocco

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

Featured

These Teens Just Flew their Own Plane to Cairo

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

Featured

The Untold Stories of Mermaids in Africa

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

SOURCE: INDIEWIRE | WASHINGTON POST

Featured

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

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

Featured

Egypt Goes after Christie’s for Auction of Its Relic

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

Featured

Addis Ababa Joins Growing List of African Cities Banning Motorcycles

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

Featured

Time To Completely Ban Canned Lion Hunting In Africa

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

Featured

Satellite Images of How African Cities have Grown

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

Featured

Lakin Ogunbanwo’s Series Captures Nigerian Weddings

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

Featured

The Rains Bring a Deadly Disease to Nigeria’s Crops

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

Featured

The Northern Cape is the Future of South African Mining

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

Featured

Lessons Sudan Can Learn from Egypt

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

Featured

Africa Launches the World’s Largest Free Trade Zone

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

Featured

Covering the Congo Beat

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

Featured

Top 10 Countries To Invest In Africa

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

Ex DRC General Convicted after Decade Long Trial

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

Featured

Kenyans Agitated by NYT’s Bureau Chief Post

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

Featured

Sudan Army to Go Back to their Barracks

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

Featured

Debates Over Another Path to the ‘Roof of Africa’

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

Featured

Towing an Iceberg to Cape Town

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

Featured

What Lies in Store at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

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

Featured

Kenya Safari Rally to Reclaim its Status in World Rally Map

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

Featured

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

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

SOURCES: AFRICA.COM

Featured

Full Steam Ahead on Ethiopia’s Recovery Plans

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

SOURCES: AFRICA BUSINESS MAGAZINE

Featured

Forbes Africa on Keeping Up with Nigeria’s Power Couple

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

SOURCES: FORBES AFRICA

Featured

A Pioneering Businessman who Drove Kenya’s Mobile Money Revolution

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

SOURCE: FINANCIAL TIMES | AFRICA NEWS

Featured

West Africa Adopts a Single Currency

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

SOURCE: CNN

Featured

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

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

SOURCE: CGTN AFRICA

Featured

East African Citizen Groups Sue Uganda and Rwanda

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

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY LIVE

Featured

How to Solve Africa’s Electricity Woes

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

SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

Featured

Brewed in Zimbabwe a Hit on the Market

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

SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

Featured

Trouble at Africa’s Biggest Fund

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

SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

Featured

Somali Refugee Switches Up Your Image of a UK Politician

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

Featured

Boeing to Compensate Families Affected by Plane Crashes

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

Featured

Dangers Facing Desperate Migrants in Libya

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

A Day in the Life of Ethiopia’s Rain Man

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

Featured

Back to the Drawing Board in Khartoum

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

Featured

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

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

Featured

Justice Served for Garissa Victims

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

Featured

A Satirical Look at the State of Football in Africa

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

Featured

Take a Trip to Nigeria’s Port City

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

Featured

How Trevor Noah Captivated a US Audience

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

Featured

Calling Out Libya’s Warring Factions

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

Featured

Another Bungle in the Italian Trial Against African Smuggler

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

Featured

Brain Drain is a Major Challenge Facing the Nigerian Health System

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

Featured

Brewed in Zimbabwe a Hit on the Market

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

Featured

Activists say Evictions at DRC Mine are Just a Band Aid

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

Featured

Private Sector Impact Investment Partnership To Deliver SDGs

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

Featured

East African Citizen Groups Sue Uganda and Rwanda

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

Featured

Zimbabwean Migrants Uses Art to Illustrate her Journey

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

Featured

Burundi’s Rebranding Campaign Misses the Nation Building Mark

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

Featured

African Stowaway Found in London Garden

A suspected stowaway who is believed to have fallen from the landing gear of a flight into Heathrow Airport has been found dead in a London garden. The body – believed to be that of a man – was found in Offerton Road, Clapham just before 15:40 BST on Sunday. Police said it was thought the individual fell from a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi. A neighbour said the body fell a metre away from a resident who had been sunbathing in the garden. The neighbour, who asked not to be named, said a plane spotter, who had been following the flight on an plane tracking app from Clapham Common, had seen the body fall. The plane spotter had arrived almost at the same time as the police and told them the body had fallen from a Kenyan Airways flight. The Met Police said a post-mortem examination would be carried out in due course and the death was not being treated as suspicious. Kenya Airways said the aircraft was inspected and no damage was reported. The discovery of the stowaway who started his journey from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi has raised questions about the effectiveness of security checks in place there.SOURCE: BBC

Featured

Nigerian Protests Bring Famous Pastor Down

A celebrity pastor in Nigeria is to take a leave of absence after a photographer accused him of rape. Nicknamed “Gucci Pastor” for his expensive taste in clothes and cars, Biodun Fatoyinbo runs the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (Coza), one of the country’s fastest-growing pentecostal churches. The allegations by Busola Dakolo, who is married to the well-known musician Timi Dakolo, led to protests outside the pastor’s churches on Sunday. Fatoyinbo, who strongly denies the allegations, issued a statement saying he was taking “a leave of absence from the pulpit” to “submit to the concerns of (his) spiritual mentors”, and that he did not understand all that was happening. The claims have prompted a number of allegations on social media from women abused or raped by people in authority in religious circles, which some have called Nigeria’s #MeToo moment. Omolara Oriye, a human rights and advocacy director at the Initiative for Equal Rights, was one of those who protested outside the church’s main Abuja branch, defying members of the secret police on standby. She said Dakolo’s testimony and the outpouring of support showed women were refusing to be silent.SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

Featured

Trouble at Africa’s Biggest Fund

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

Featured

How Trump’s Ban Affected these African Refugees

Thirty year-old Abdirizak Salatis among the 26,000 Somali refugees living in Kenya, according to the UNHCR, who were ready to travel to the US before being stopped by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in 2017. Half of them had been interviewed by US officials while the others were to be interviewed by the State Department, with some 14,500 of them living in Dadaab, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). His resettlement process began in 2007. After 10 years of undergoing a series of interviews, security, medical and background checks, his case was finally approved for November 2016, when the US was preparing for presidential elections. A week after taking office in January 2017, Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries. The ban suspended the US Refugee Admissions Program for four months and anyone coming from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

Featured

Women Mountaineers of Africa Reach for New Heights

South African business executive Saray Khumalo became the first black African woman to climb the world’s highest mountain, which stands at 8,848 meters tall in May. Now four other South Africans are training to become the first all-female African team to climb the world’s tallest peak. Deshun Deysel, Lisa Gering, Tumi Mphahlele and Alda Waddell are training on the sandstone cliffs of South Africa’s Drankensberg Mountains. They hope that next year, they can become the first team of African women to conquer Mount Everest. The women have different levels of experience in mountaineering. Each team member does her own intensive mental and physical training along with group sessions to prepare for the difficult climb. As South African women entrepreneurs, the team sees parallels with running a business in a male-dominated world and climbing the world’s tallest mountain. They want their attempt to scale Mount Everest to inspire more African women to reach for the top.SOURCE: VOA

Featured

African Countries and the State of their Environments: the Best and the Worst

Social and economic changes in Africa are being driven by increasing prosperity and heavy foreign investment. Money has been poured into activities such as road building, forestry expansion, livestock intensification and increasing urbanisation. All have increased pressure on the continent’s environment. But previous research into these changes has mostly focused on how specific species or communities within protected areas are affected. Unfortunately, the socio-economic conditions underlying environmental degradation across the entire continent have largely been ignored. So, researchers decided to examine the social and economic factors that underlie environmental degradation in Africa. Our goal was to come up with an environmental indicator rank for each country on the continent. This was done before comparing hundreds of countries around the world. Nevertheless, our view was that Africa deserved a customised ranking system.SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

Featured

UN Warns Libyan Rivals Not to Use Water as a Weapon of War

While Libya’s oil lies at the heart of three months of fighting over Tripoli and years of power struggles before that, water is becoming a far bigger concern for its people. Interruptions to water supplies are common after eight years of near-anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted, but a wider crisis is now coming to a head in a country made up mainly of arid desert and split between competing administrations. In western Libya, finding clean water has become difficult because both the power grid and water control system have been damaged in an offensive by forces loyal to eastern-based Khalifa Haftar on Tripoli, where the U.N.-backed government is based. Looting and neglect have made the situation fragile and armed groups have exploited the unrest. Even local bottled water in a country which sits on Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves has become contaminated. If the damage does not get fixed, there could be a “sudden, unexpected, uncontrollable and un-prepared for” shutdown of the main water pipeline system.SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA

Featured

Zimbabweans Bemoan the Latest Shortage that They have to Deal With

Applicants for new or renewed passports face an indefinite wait as the government does not have the foreign currency to pay for special imported paper, ink and other raw materials. Officials at the Registrar General Office said that even if citizens want to pay for an urgent application for a passport, they face a minimum wait of 18 months before they can even submit their papers. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad in the last 20 years seeking work as hyperinflation wiped out savings and the formal employment sector collapsed. Many others are now seeking to leave as conditions worsen under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had promised an economic revival after he succeeding long-ruling Robert Mugabe in 2017.SOURCE:  AFRICA NEWS

Featured

Nigerians Use Waste to Fund their Education

Thanks to a recent partnership with Africa Cleanup Initiative (ACI), an NGO with focus on sustainability, Oluwaseyi’s daughter’s school, Morit International School, now accepts the plastic bottles, also known as PET bottles, in exchange for school fees. Through a program called RecyclesPay, ACI collaborates with schools in low-income communities to allow parents who are unable to afford fees for their children to pay using plastic bottles they collect. Twice a month Oluwaseyi visits her daughter’s school with bags full of sorted plastic bottle recyclables. The cost of tuition is determined by how many PET bottles she has collected; for every 200 kilograms of recyclable bottles, Oluwaseyi can earn up to $11 off the term’s tuition of $24. There are more than 450,000 megatons of plastic waste discarded in Lagos waters every year, according to reports in local media. Nigeria generates huge amounts of plastic waste, and according to 2017 Ocean Atlas report, Nigeria is ranked number 11 in the world for plastic pollution, posing health risks to citizens and causing environmental damage.SOURCE: CNN

Featured

Traveling South Africa Just Got Easier

South African startup LayUp has launched a platform that allows users to make bookings with travel merchants and pay over time. The LayUp software provides travel merchants from hotels to agencies with the ability to provide their customers with an interest-free payment plan for holiday bookings. Consumers can choose a payment plan, paying small amounts on a monthly basis towards their trips, with the total amount settled before the holiday. It offers an easy calculator functionality and online payment gateway that allows users to book a trip without speaking to an agent. Another South African startup, Fomo Travel, was the inspiration for LayUp. Fomo Travel now uses LayUp’s technology to offers payment plans to its customers.SOURCE: DISRUPT AFRICA

Featured

West Africa Adopts a Single Currency

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

Featured

Statement by the Home Office Hurts Nigeria’s Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking

Home Office officials have provoked outrage by stating that trafficked women from Nigeria can return to the country “wealthy from prostitution” and “held in high regard”. The comments are found in an official policy and information note on the trafficking of women from Nigeria, which is used by Home Office decision-makers handling protection and human rights claims. The guidance has been updated to include a paragraph on the prospects of trafficked women if they return to Nigeria, citing EU and Australian reports that make similar observations, which was not in the last version published in November 2016. The paragraph reads: “Trafficked women who return from Europe, wealthy from prostitution, enjoy high social-economic status and in general are not subject to negative social attitudes on return. They are often held in high regard because they have improved income prospects.”SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

Featured

How to Solve Africa’s Electricity Woes

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

Featured

DRC President Has a Crisis on His Hands

Thousands of Congolese are patiently waiting in Drodro for answers from the government near the border between DR Congo and Uganda. The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, is expected in the Ituri region, where inter-ethnic fighting is forcing people from their homes. Almost half a million Congolese have been displaced and at least 400 killed in fighting this month. More than 400,000 people have fled the province since the fighting started three weeks ago, many trying to make it across the border. Tshisekedi is expected there to assess the humanitarian crisis.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

Featured

How a South African Eatery Lost its Key Customers

Some of Spur’s most ardent fans have been staying away, supporting a boycott now entering its third year that has highlighted the underlying racial tensions in South African society. The boycott began in 2017 when Spur sided with a black woman who was in a confrontation with a white man at a franchise in Johannesburg. But the continuing campaign against the chain — promoted by South Africa’s most prominent groups that advocate white-minority rights — reflects something more profound than lingering bitterness over that dispute. Founded in 1967, Spur helped introduce American-style casual dining to South Africa at a time when the country’s racial policies were increasingly making it an international pariah. Franchises spread quickly, and the chain became one of the country’s most recognizable brands. Black South Africans now account for about 65 percent of the customers at the nation’s more than 280 Spur franchises, according to an internal report prepared for the company. But individual franchises still depend heavily on white customers. Sales have slowly recovered nationwide. But business is still not back to normal at some locations.SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES

Featured

The Potential Impact of Africa’s Fintech Space

Africa’s fintech companies have raised $320 million in funding since January 2015 and the ecosystem has surged 60% in the last two years. The continent’s fintech firms have grown to 491 from 301 in 2017, while the $132.8 million raised in 2018 has been the sector’s best-ever year, according to the Finnovating for Africa 2019: Reimagining the African financial services landscape report. The annual report by Disrupt Africa has been tracking active fintech startups for the past four and a half years in 28 countries.   Last year 210 African tech startups raised $334.5 million, with Nigeria leading the investments in 2018 with 58 startups raising $94,9 millions, followed by South Africa with 40 businesses that raised $59,9 millions, and Kenya was third.SOURCE: FORBES AFRICA

Featured

Opportunity for Investment in Ghana’s Hospitality Industry

One of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in English-speaking West Africa is Ghana, for many obvious reasons. The country is not in any way lacking in tourist attractions, especially for those interested in nature and West African slave trade era history. The Kakum National Park, Labadi Beach, Elmina Castle, the mighty Volta Lake, and the Akosombo Dam are just a few of the sites attracting foreign traffic to the country. The country featured prominently on PWC’s Hospitality Outlook 2017-2027 report as a major emerging market in Africa. Big investors are seeing the light and responding to the stimulus. That is why hotels, both locally and internationally-branded, are springing up in the country. As of May 2017, there were 2,723 hotels and lodges in Ghana. Tour operators and destination marketing, food tourism and events marketing are among the top sectors to invest in.SOURCE:  AFRICA.COM

Featured

Sideline Highlights from Afcon

Egypt secured top spot in Group A becoming the only side so far to have earned full points in all three games and yet to concede a goal while doing so. Zimbabwe and the DRC faced off in the other game of the group. The Leopards put forth a convincing performance that saw them hit four past Zimbabwe’s Warriors. Madagascar recorded the biggest upset of the AFCON by beating two times champions Nigeria in the final Group B game. They ended up topping the group with Nigeria coming second. Guinea also beat Burundi by two goals to nil to end with four points. The Syli Nationale will likely make it into the next round as a third-best team. Ahead of last games in this group, only holders Cameroon have secured a win in their victory against Guinea Bissau. The draw with Ghana means they have secured a place in the knockout phase. Mauritania will take on Angola in Group E, and the tournament debutants will be hoping to earn their first points at the tournament. Mauritania lost their first match to Mali, while Angola held Tunisia to a 1-1 draw. In Group F, defending champions Cameroon will take on Ghana, while Benin who held the Black Stars to a 2-2 draw in the first match, will play against Guinea Bissau.SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS

Featured

Kenyan Women Take an Active Role in the Fight against Terrorism

The U.S. Institute of Peace is training and working with Kenyan women as they build trust within their communities to prevent violent extremism. The program comes as Kenya struggles to halt the recruitment efforts of Islamist militant group al-Shabab. The organization Sisters Without Borders was formed in 2014. One of its missions is to bridge the mistrust between Kenyan security agencies and families of terrorism suspects. The organization includes at least 20 women’s groups from Nairobi, Mombasa and Garissa, all of which have seen deadly terrorist attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. Kenya National Counterterrorism Center Director Martin Kimani says that kind of ground-level activism is exactly what the country needs. Kenya has been prime recruiting territory for al-Shabab since 2011, when the government sent troops into Somalia to fight militants.SOURCE: VOA

Featured

Africa’s Biggest Soccer Fiesta Reminds Us How Difficult it is for Africans to Travel in Africa

Millions of African soccer fans dream of being at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) to support their national teams, but not everyone can afford to do so. As it turns out, even those who can afford it are constrained by the infamous difficulties Africans face when they travel within the continent as Nigerian soccer fans and journalists are finding out with visa applications to travel to Egypt, host nation of AFCON. In fairness, governments across Africa are attempting to ease travel restrictions across the continent, agreeing to both a Continental Free Trade Agreement and a Single Air Transport Market over the past 18 months. Countries like Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia and Namibia have also relaxed their visa rules for Africans but, regardless, achieving full Africa-wide integration remains a work in progress as a majority of Africans still require visas to travel across most of the continent.SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA

Featured

South Africa Stuck in Longest Business-Cycle Slump Since 1945

The economy entered the 67th month of a weakening cycle in June, according to the Reserve Bank’s Quarterly Bulletin released Thursday in the capital, Pretoria. That’s after gross domestic product contracted the most in a decade in the three months through March. Africa’s most-industrialized economy went through a recession in 2018 and it shrank again in the first quarter of this year as the nation suffered the worst power outages since 2008. The Reserve Bank forecasts the economy, which hasn’t expanded at more than 2% since 2013, will only achieve 1% growth this year. The central bank monitors about 200 indicators representing economic processes such as production, sales, employment and prices to determine the direction of the trend.SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

Featured

Mass Arrests in Ethiopia After Coup Bid

Ethiopian security forces on Thursday rounded up scores of suspects believed to have links to a coup bid in northern Amhara state and the murder of the army chief in attacks which have highlighted the political crisis in the nation. “In Addis Ababa alone, 56 of our members and sympathisers have been arrested while dozens other NaMA (National Amhara Movement) sympathisers and members in Oromia have also been arrested,” said party spokesman Christian Tadele. The violence is seen as a backlash to Abiy’s efforts to lead democratic reforms in Africa’s second-most populous nation. Observers say the prime minister’s breakneck reforms have severely weakened the unity of the once all-powerful EPRDF. Internet services were partially restored across Ethiopia on Thursday after a near-total blackout for the past five days.SOURCE: YAHOO NEWS / AFP

Featured

Tunisia President in ‘Critical Condition’, Attacks Rock Capital

Double suicide attacks shook Tunisia’s capital Thursday. The violence revived fears for the stability of the North African state, which is seen as a rare democratic success story of the Arab Spring uprisings but has been hit by repeated Islamist attacks. Just hours after news of the attacks broke, the presidency announced that President Beji Caid Essebsi “was taken seriously ill and transferred to the military hospital in Tunis”. Key adviser Firas Guefrech described the 92-year-old leader as in “critical condition” and in a later tweet said that Essebsi was “stable”, urging supporters to pray for his recovery.  There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. SOURCE: AFP

Featured

Kenyan Court Blocks Coal Project Near World Heritage Site

Residents and environmentalists cheered Wednesday’s ruling which blocks East Africa’s first coal-fired power station. The National Environment Tribunal (NET) cancelled an environmental impact assessment licence for the Lamu coal project, ruling that “the circumstances under which it was issued were flawed.” The project is East Africa’s first coal-fired power station. “This is a huge win for the environment, for the people of Kenya and most especially for the people of Lamu,” said Hussein Khalid, Executive Director for Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), a civil society organisation based in the coastal region of Kenya. The revoked license had been issued to Amu Power Company, a consortium of Kenyan firms Centum Investment Plc and Gulf Energy Ltd as well as international backers.SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

Featured

Gambia’s Jammeh ‘Handpicked’ Women for Rape, Abuse

Rights groups accuse former longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh of committing a string of sexual offences while in office.  Jammeh’s administration was notorious for its brutality and corruption, but this is the first time that sexual abuse of women was extensively and publicly documented. “Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property,” said Reed Brody, HRW’s legal counsel. The investigation was based on evidence from four women, eight former Gambian officials, and several other witnesses, the rights groups said.  Jammeh had “protocol girls” who were required to be on call to provide him with sex. The findings also allege as an inducement, Jammeh would lavish gifts on them, provide support for their impoverished families, or offer a scholarship to study abroad. “These admirable women broke the culture of silence. It is now crucial that the TRRC and the government give them a path to redress and justice,” said Marion Volkmann-Brandau, who led the research.SOURCE: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Featured

Many Killed in Madagascar Stadium Stampede

A stampede at a stadium during Madagascar’s independence day celebrations killed 16 people and left 101 people injured. The incident happened at the entrance of the stadium as the crowd jostled to get through the gate at the Mahamasina stadium in the capital Antananarivo. “The gate was not large enough for the crowd,” said General Richard Ravalomanana. The president wished the wounded a speedy recovery and announced his government would foot the hospital bill for those injured. Wednesday’s tragedy is the second to occur at the stadium in the capital, and has cast a shadow over events marking the country’s 59 years of independence from France.

SOURCE: CNN

Featured

Sudan Police Fire Tear Gas as Students Protest Near Palace

Sudanese riot police Thursday fired tear gas at scores of students who rallied against the ruling generals near the presidential palace in downtown Khartoum, witnesses said. Protesters have been staging sporadic and scattered demonstrations in recent days in the capital ahead of mass rallies called by protest leaders on June 30 against the generals. Chanting “freedom, peace, justice”, the catchcry of the protest movement that brought down Bashir, about 300 students stepped out of their banking college in downtown Khartoum and held a spontaneous protest, witnesses said. Riot police swiftly arrived and fired tear gas at the demonstration. The umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, has called for mass rallies in Khartoum and other cities on June 30.SOURCE: DAILY NATION

Featured

South Africa’s First Carbon Farm

Land restoration could attract large private investments in the fight against climate change over the coming decades. Spekboom forests can act as ‘natural water dams’: in mountainous areas, the trees can grow even on steep slopes, and when rare rainfall occurs in the semi-arid regions of the Eastern Cape, they suck up all the moisture quickly, and can store if for months. Spekboom forests can serve as grazing and browsing areas of last resort for wildlife and livestock, even when all else has withered in a drought. Spekboom trees also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere faster than most other trees in dry conditions. The goal is to restore an area of thicket of over one million hectares, almost 200 times the size of Manhattan. There is potential to plant more than 2 billion tree cuttings across this immense landscape, providing work and income for thousands of people, for several years. The South African Government sees thicket restoration as one of the low-hanging fruits for the achievement of national climate and biodiversity goals, and recognizes that private investments are key. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

Featured

Uber Aiming for Expansion in Fast-Growing West African Markets

Global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc is in talks with regulators over plans to expand into two West African countries and provide a boat service in Nigerian megacity Lagos, a company executive said on Thursday. Uber, which said it has 36,000 active drivers in sub-Saharan Africa, operates in a number of countries in East and South Africa but is largely absent from West Africa, aside from Nigeria and Ghana. The firm has identified the region as a target for potential expansion, said Chief Business Officer Brooks Entwistle. He said the company was in talks with regulators in Ivory Coast and Senegal regarding the possible launch of services. Uber faces stiff competition in African cities from Estonian ride-hailing firm Bolt, which until early 2019 was called Taxify. Bolt has grabbed business largely by taking a smaller cut from drivers using its app.SOURCE:  CNBC AFRICA

Featured

2019 Investment Attractiveness Rankings for Africa

Rand Merchant Bank has released the eighth edition of its Where to invest in Africa report, which analyzes 53 African economies according to their investment attractiveness. The theme of this year’s report is infrastructure, one of the most important aspects of doing business on the continent. Egypt appears to be the most attractive investment market.SOURCE: RMB

Featured

African Development Bank approves USD 24.7 million for Water and Sanitation Development in South Sudan

South Sudan’s capital city of Juba, like many urban centers in the country, suffers from the effects of years of armed conflict and under-investment in the development and maintenance of basic water infrastructure. Increased numbers of displaced people and rapid urbanization have placed considerable strain on existing urban water supply infrastructure and the illegal supply of untreated water drawn from river Nile by private water tanker operators is common in the city and its suburbs. On completion, the project will directly benefit 300,000 people in Juba and the surrounding rural Jubek state. The nearly $2 million grant will ensure that schools and communities in eight targeted rural areas of Jubek state, will benefit from 40 public/institutional latrines blocks to be constructed, as well as hygiene education.SOURCE: AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

Featured

Is Africa Cybercrime-Savvy?

In more developed economies there’s been an increase in attacks from ‘hacktivists’ who use the dark arts of cyber to embarrass, advocate or protest. According to cyber analytics firm Kaspersky Lab, there are 13,842 cyber attacks daily in South Africa. That equates to more than 570 attacks every hour. Bank fraud, particularly the use of malware on mobile phones, has also increased dramatically, says the South African Banking Risk Information Centre. They compete by offering so-called offensive tools, explains Neil Walsh, head of cybersecurity and fraud at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. These are computer networks and mobile phones that are turned into listening devices. It opens opportunities to meddle in elections, steal data or seek ransom funds from targets that may include governments, utility providers, the military, manufacturing and commercial players. African leaders cannot bury their heads in the sand and paint this as a developed country problem. Cyber awareness must become part of every aspect of life from doing business to alleviating poverty and providing security.SOURCE: INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES

Featured

Nigeria: Central Bank Kicks Off Buhari’s 100 Million Jobs Project

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday announced policies and programmes to create 10 million jobs in the next five years. The initiative falls within President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty through job creation and economic diversification. In the project, which will last for 10 years, Buhari had said that Nigeria can accomplish the feat because China, India and Indonesia had done the same. The CBN, however, limited its job creation scheme to five years since its governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, would only be in office for the period, having served out his first term. He said that the five million jobs would be through the apex bank’s increased intervention in the agriculture and credit access to the real sector of the economy.SOURCE: LEADERSHIP

Featured

From Limpopo, South Africa to America’s Got Talent

Ndlovu Youth Choir’s rendition of ‘My African Dream’, conducted by choir director Ralf Schmitt and composed by South African-born Alan Lazar, aired on US TV on Tuesday night. The choir’s beautiful performance on America’s Got Talent (AGT) got four nods from all the judges, and has thanked fans for supporting their dream. The Ndlovu Youth Choir is a group of young people from the Ndlovu Care Group in the rural village of Moutse, Limpopo. Founded in 1994 by Dutch doctor, Dr. Hugo Templeman, the Ndlovu Care Group provides innovative healthcare, childcare, education, and community development. SOURCE: AFRICA.COM

Featured

Young African Researchers to Help Address Critical Gaps in the Understanding of African Climate System

Climate change poses major developmental challenges for the African continent, but through research and innovation, climate change can also create opportunities for carbon neutral and sustainable development. “It has been said over and over again and I will repeat that this is very important in that it provides an opportunity for our young African researchers to address critical gaps that are there in the understanding of the African climate system and bridges the divide between climate science and policy,” said Frank Rutabingwa of the ACPC and Wiser. The CR4D is an African-led initiative that has matured to a level where it is today with the announcement this week of the first cohort of 21 young African research grantees from Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Namibia, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal and Zimbabwe to researcher and contribute to the development of more science-based reliable and useful climate information in Africa.SOURCE: UNITED NATIONS

Featured

Uganda: More Refugees Flee to Uganda As Violence Flares Up in DR Congo

The inter-ethnic clashes in the northeastern areas of DR Congo are driving people across the border into Uganda at a rate of 311 a day, more than double the rate of refugee arrivals in May (145 per day). The UN Refugee Agency said that the country did not have resources to cater for around 7,500 Congolese refugees that had arrived in Uganda since the start of June, “placing strain on already badly overstretched facilities.” Nearly two thirds are children, below 18 years in age. “While screening facilities are in place at the collection points, transit centres and reception centres, health facilities are basic and need upgrading. Clinics are in need of more doctors and medicines,” said the official. “Already overcrowded and understaffed schools need significant support to meet the educational needs of the new arrivals.” Even though hundreds have been provided plots of land close to the Kyangwali refugee settlement, the pace of new arrivals is outpacing the available facility with needs outstripping what humanitarians are able to deliver.

SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN

Featured

Nigeria Beat Guinea to Reach Afcon Last 16

Nigeria became the first team to qualify for the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations as they beat Guinea 1-0. Three-time winners Nigeria scored the only goal in the 73rd minute when Moses Simon’s right-wing corner was headed in at the near post by Kenneth Omeruo. They now have six points from their two games after a 1-0 win over Burundi in their first match on Saturday. The top two nations in each of the six groups advance, along with the four best third-placed countries. The other two nations in Group B, Madagascar and Burundi, play on Thursday, before Burundi take on Guinea and Madagascar face Nigeria in the final round of group games on Sunday.SOURCE: BBC

Featured

Opioids in Africa: Cheap and Accessible

Cheap painkillers are the new drugs for the people. On the African continent, more and more people are becoming addicted and the illicit trade in pharmaceuticals is on the rise. Few people think of the legal opioids such as cough syrup or painkillers, which can induce effects similar to those of heroin. The non-medical, recreational use of such drugs has risen dramatically in the last 10 years worldwide. Around the African continent, the drugs are easily accessible and are often smuggled across borders without any medical control. For over 15 years, the UN has warned countries about the illegal, yet increasingly professional trade in pharmaceuticals. “The synthetic opioid problem, in terms of the amounts seized annually, is on the same scale as global heroin seizures,” says Matthew Nice of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODOC).  There are no exact figures, he says, but he and his colleagues recently alerted the UN to the severity of the situation in Africa, which especially affects countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo. The drug that mostly comes into focus is the painkiller Tramadol. “There’s large scale trafficking of unregulated, illicitly manufactured sub-standard Tramadol throughout the region,” he says.SOURCE: DW

Featured

The Underlying Tension Behind Ethiopia’s Flawed Federal System and Its Risks

Dozens of people were killed in fighting during a foiled coup by a rogue state militia in Ethiopia’s Amhara region at the weekend, the regional government spokesman said on Wednesday, the first official report of significant clashes. It has significant implications for the near future of Ethiopia’s federal system and peace in the country. For almost three decades Ethiopia’s federal structure – enshrined in the country’s 1994 constitution – has been defended by the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front. Sadly, in a nation of more than 90 ethnic groups, the system created more animosity and competition for power and influence. Debates about the system have resurfaced since prime minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April last year. These include the need for national reconciliation and where domestic administrative borders should be drawn. The challenges Ethiopia faces due to its federal arrangement are substantial. Nor does the country have strong enough institutions such as independent judiciary and agreed conflict resolution mechanisms.SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION

Featured

‘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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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.

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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

Featured

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